Chief Executive Officer of the Botswana Geoscience Institute, Tiyapo Ngwisanyi, has dismissed suggestions that the earthquake that reverberated across the country last night may have been a result of alleged hydraulic fracking activity in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve (CKGR).
The geological expert said his organisation was certain that the earthquake which occurred 132 km from Moiyabana village in the Central District was not man-made as it took place 29km underground.
“People must know that it is a natural earthquake,” he said.
Ngwisanyi further said there was no way they could have detected the earthquake.
“Unlike the weather, earthquakes do not have a forecast. We only learn about them when they happen,” he said and added that they were also surprised that the quake took place in a highly unlikely area.
Ngwisanyi said in Botswana, the Okavango Delta is the most prone area to earthquakes as it is part of the East African rift system.
“We don’t have large earthquakes but we do have some, like the current one which we cannot explain.”
He explained that the rift system extends all the way from Ethiopia and passes through Kenya where majority of earthquakes in Africa are experienced.
“We have a number of earth quakes in Okavango but are not normally felt by people although they are measured by instruments.”
Though he could not rule out the possibility of aftershocks, Ngwisanyi said that even if they happen, they may not be felt because their impact is very minimal.
He further pointed out that last night’s earth quake was the second biggest since the 1952 one which hit Maun.
“The one that happened in Maun was of 6.7 magnitude while the one that we experienced last night was 6.5,” he said and explained that earthquakes normally happen along faults in areas where the ground is cracked and there is tension.
“When that stress builds up, the energy is released. It then snaps and the faults move apart. That’s how the quakes normally occur.” He asked people not to panic much because Botswana is not an earthquake prone country.