Coral reefs rise off Rakhine’s Manaung island

w_55324146 A man stands behind a vehicle as strong winds and waves batter the coast line at Sittwe beach during monsoon season in Rakhine State, in July 2019. Photo: EPA-EFE/NYUNT WIN

29 MAY 2020 - Source: Myanmar Times - Coral reefs are rising out of the water of Manaung island in the Bay of Bengal of Rakhine State but the phenomenon does not indicate an earthquake or tsunami is coming, a senior official of the Myanmar Earthquake Committee said.

U Myo Thant, deputy committee chair, said tsunamis result from earthquakes under the ocean but the emergence of coral reefs is due to other causes.

"The rise of coral reefs may be related to tides," he said. "It could also be due to the collision of two tectonic plates – the Indian plate may be pushing against the Burma plate off Manaung island, and the latter may rise before a quake," he said.

The last major earthquake – a magnitude 8 – hit Rakhine in 1762. Records show the quake triggered a tsunami.

"Tsunamis occur only when earthquakes occur on the seafloor," U Myo Thant said. "Earthquakes of such magnitude occur about every 500 years. If they occur earlier, they would be weaker, and if they occur later, they would be stronger."

Tectonic plates in India and Myanmar usually collide horizontally and vertically every year. Although their movements can be measured, it is impossible to forecast earthquakes.

U Tun Naing, rector of the Geological Department at Yangon Technological University, said some foreign experts think an earthquake similar to the one in 1762 could happen again, but others said the plates are dormant.

He said, "The things we are seeing now could indicate a coming earthquake."

He added that the emergence of the coral reefs off Manaung Island could be due to the decline of the water level. - Translated

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