UP geologist wins medal for pioneering work on geodynamics of the Philippines

Dr. Carla B. Dimalanta, professor at the National Institute of Geological Sciences (NIGS) in UP Diliman and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs (Research), is this year’s recipient of the Outstanding Research and Development Award for Basic Research (Eduardo A. Quisumbing Medal).

Dimalanta won for the project “The Second Phase of the Philippines-Taiwan Integrated Geodynamics Project” which she implemented with Dr. Decibel Faustino-Eslava, Dr. Betchaida Payot and Dr. Noelynna Ramos from 2011 to 2015 and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology.  The project generated the most recent data on the geologic evolution of the Visayan Region. 

Given annually by the National Academy of Science and Technology (NAST), the award recognizes an individual or group who has made outstanding contributions through research in the mathematical, physical or life sciences.

The awarding ceremony was held on 17 July 2018 at the World Trade Center in Pasay City.

Dr. Carla Dimalanta (center) receives the award from DOST Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña and NAST president Dr. Rhodora V. Azanza. The award recognizes her contributions to understanding the formation of the Philippines and strengthening geodisaster risk reduction and management in the country.

In particular, the project examined the overriding plate, which collided with the continent-derived Palawan Microcontinental Block, through geological, geochemical, geophysical and paleomagnetic surveys in central Philippines. The findings suggest that Samar Island is made up of a complete ophiolite suite – a sequence of igneous rocks which represents a portion of the oceanic crust–upper mantle section.

According to dating and paleomagnetic results, this ophiolite suite was formed about 100 million years ago at a paleolatitude that is 14 degrees south of the equator. Fragments of the ophiolitic rocks were eroded and became components of the younger sedimentary sequences. The ages of the sedimentary sequences from Late Oligocene (27.8 million years ago) to Early Pliocene (roughly 5 million years ago) suggest that the oceanic crust–upper mantle fragment was already exposed and emplaced on land before Late Oligocene.

Equipment in the paleomagnetic laboratory at NIGS which was used to determine at what latitude the Samar ophiolite was formed. The team set up the country’s first (and thus far only) paleomagnetic laboratory and electron microprobe analyzer.

Eight papers were produced from the project which were subsequently published in journals indexed by Web of Science.

Dimalanta and her Rushurgent Working Group at NIGS continue to do research to further our understanding of how the Philippines was formed and help assess geohazards such as landslides, floods, tsunamis and earthquakes that may be present in the study area.