By Madelaine B. Miraflor, Manila Bulletin
The mineral exploration at Philippine Rise, which could be the next big source of huge revenues for the government, is on track, with Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) recently completing the geological survey along the Bicol Shelf area.
To recall, MGB, the agency tasked to develop and regulate the country’s highly controversial minerals sector, has embarked on a five-year survey to explore the mineral resources in Philippine Rise, a 25-million hectare shallow continental shelf east of the main island of Luzon.
This was months after Environment Undersecretary Jonas Leones said the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is looking to spend nearly PhP1 billion to conduct geological investigation and exploration of minerals within the Philippine Rise.
To complement the recently concluded geophysical survey at the Philippine Rise and Benham Bank, another team from the Marine Geological Survey Division (MGSD) of the MGB recently conducted geophysical and geological survey along the Bicol Shelf area.
The team, headed by MGB Senior Geologist Crisostomo V. Masangkay, went on board a fishing boat (basnig) and conducted geotechnical activities comprised of sub-bottom profiling and echo-sounding.
Side-scan sonar imaging was also instigated in the marine and coastal areas off Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur.
Grab benthic and beach sediment sampling were then conducted to provide understanding of the sedimentation and mineral content of sedimentary sequences in the seabed.
Results of this survey are expected to provide information on the characteristics and configuration of the seabed, microorganisms and economically important minerals of this part of the Philippine Rise region.
“The side-scan data with bathymetric soundings and sub-bottom profiler information is expected to give us a glimpse of the shallow structure of the seabed,” MGB said.
The side-scan sonar technique is also used for fisheries and other marine biodiversity research, dredging operations and environmental studies. It is also applicable in mine detection.
Philippine Rise, formerly known as Benham Rise, is a seismically active submerged volcanic realm located east of Luzon Island near Cagayan Valley, Aurora and northern Bicol Region.