An engineer with the National Data Centre of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission has said that the Earthquakes that Ghana continue to experience is caused by movement along fault lines, known as Intraplate Earthquakes.

Dr. Paulina Amponsah said this when she delivered a presentation on the history, causes and effects of Earthquakes in Ghana and suggested recommendations on how to prevent and reduce the risks associated with Earthquakes in the country.

The program was put together by the Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE) on Thursday at the Engineers Centre, Roman Ridge, Accra to discuss the recent Earthquakes in Accra.

Giving the history of Earthquakes in Ghana, Dr. Paulina Amponsah said, “Ghana is far away from the major Earthquake zones of the World, however, the country is seismically active and therefore prone to earthquake disasters”.

She narrated that the first earthquake recorded in Ghana was in 1615 and the event was located in Elmina, where a fortress was destroyed. In 1636, an earthquake of magnitude 5.7 struck the country at Axim, where some miners were buried alive.

In 1862, another earthquake struck the country in Accra with magnitude 6.5, in which 3 people were killed and destroyed many structures.

According to Dr Amponsah, a severe earthquake struck the country in 1906, 1939, 1964, 1969, 1997 and 2003.

She added that recently, earth tremors have been recorded on March 24, 2018, December 9, 2018, January 2019, February 2019 and the most recent one occurred on March 2, 2019. She said all these tremors recorded magnitude less than 4.

The discussion revealed that residents of Kasoa, Awutu-Senya, Weija-Gbawe, McCarthy Hills, Adenta and other areas located near the intersection of the two major faults zones in the country, namely, the Akwapim fault zone and the Coastal boundary fault zone are prone to Seismic activities, hence earthquake are high in occurrence. 

She recommended that for our country to be resilient to earthquake disasters, we must be proactive in our planning process both local and national levels.

GhIE earthquake

Photos (l-r): Ing. Michael Obeng-Konadu, Ing. Mrs. Carlien Bou-Chedid, Dr. Paulina Amponsah and Ing. Dr. Nii Allotey

Another speaker for the day, Ing. Dr Nii Allotey, also suggested that a serious national decision to make on earthquake disaster is “CHANGE”. “Many countries have learnt their lessons the hard way. A country puts earthquake mitigation aside at its own peril”, he added.

Michael Obeng-Konadu, who also spoke on the human elements in earthquakes also stressed that the anthropogenic activities that increase earthquakes effects include poorly engineered buildings on steep slopes, sand winning activities and rock quarrying including the use of explosives at the base of slopes, farming activities at base of slopes, obstruction of natural drainage and absence of properly designed slope protection measures in populated hill-site areas.

On her part, the Past President of GhIE, who is the current President-elect for Federation of African Engineering Organization (FAEO), Carlien Bou-Chedid suggested that the country puts a deliberate plan to ensure that all public buildings are retrofitted to be able to stand earthquake and tremors.

She advised the public that in the event of an earthquakes, they should remain calm, drop down, take cover, as soon as the ground shaking stops, leave the buildings and stay out in the opens and not immediately return to buildings because there could be aftershocks.

Giving the closing remarks, the Executive Director of GhIE, Kwabena Agyei Agyepong called on Municipal, District Assemblies and Departments responsible for permits to build to ensure the right professionals are consulted to minimize the risks and damages that earthquakes and tremors cause in the country.

Present at the program included the President of GhIE, Alexander Leslie Ayeh, Council members of GhIE, Past Presidents of GhIE, members from sister professional bodies, Fire Service, NADMO and the media. 

GhIE earthquake 2

Photo: Cross section of the participants at the lecture