FACT CHECK: Mt. Leonard Kniaseff isn’t the cause of earthquakes in Davao de Oro

Mar. 16, 2023

Claim: A Facebook user has claimed that Mt. Leonard Kniaseff in Maco town, Davao de Oro province is the possible cause of the series of earthquakes since February 2, noting that it is the most active stratovolcano between Maco and Mabini towns.

Other social media posts, meanwhile, said the earthquakes from March 6 to 7 in the same province indicated they are of volcanic eruption.

Rating: FALSE

Why we fact-checked this: The unverified claims circulating on social media have fueled fear and caused confusion.

As of this writing, the Facebook post has gotten 117 shares and 72 reactions, while the other video post has had 242 reactions, 36 comments, 319 shares, and 21,000 views.

The facts: A 5.9-magnitude earthquake, classified as very strong by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), was felt in the municipalities of Maco, Maragusan, Mawab, and New Bataan in the Davao Region.

Phivolcs has monitored 1,278 aftershocks ranging from magnitude 1.5 to 5.9.

Based on the state of calamity declaration by Davao de Oro’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan, people were frightened, while damage to power lines, roads and other vital infrastructure was also observed.

Phivolcs statement: Phivolcs, in an update released on March 7, said the series of earthquakes did not show volcanic activity although the nearest active volcano from the epicenter is the Mt. Leonard Kniaseff (~13km). It noted that the earthquakes were tectonic in origin.

Davao de Oro in Eastern Mindanao is one of the seismically active regions in the country because of the presence of active faults that include the East Compostela Valley, West Compostela Valley, Central Compostela Valley, Nabunturan, Caraga River, Mati segments of the Philippine Fault, and the Central Mindanao Fault.

No connection: Phivolcs Science Research specialist Dr. Raymond Patrick Maximo said Mt. Leonard Kniaseff is in no way connected to the earthquakes experienced by the whole province and neighboring areas in the past weeks. 

He explained that volcanic earthquakes are associated with the movement of magma inside an active volcano, and that the Davao de Oro series of earthquakes were a result of the movement of the Caraga River Fault with a 1,250-kilometer span. (originally posted on rappler.com)

Lucelle Bonzo is an Aries Rufo Journalism Fellow.

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