PETALING JAYA - Earthquakes in Sabah could be indications of volcanic activity deep in the earth's crust but there's no cause for alarm.
Dhaka University professor of geology Prof Dr Aftab Alam Khan said any eruption, if at all, would be in the very distant future.
Currently a research fellow at University Malaya, Prof Aftab Alam Khan said earthquakes are usually caused by interaction and movement of tectonic plates which are sub-layers of the earth's crust (lithosphere).
He said generally earthquakes occur in the geological plate margin but these margins were absent in Borneo.
Dr Aftab believes there was some other kind of geological phenomenon at work because the United States Geological Survey (USGS) recorded the depth of Sabah's quake at 10km.
"There could be crust and mantle interplay which can generate molten material that could erupt one day," he said.
The crust is the outer layer of Earth and second layer is called the mantle.
Dr Aftab said the formation of a volcano was a very slow process and could take centuries.
He also described Sabah's quake as an independent geological condition and not related to recent earthquakes in Japan and Indonesian Mount Sinabung's volcanic activity.
"Malaysia is well outside the ring of fire and other seismic or volcanic activities in neighbouring countries," he said.
However, the Malaysian Meteorological Department said they cannot discount this possibility.
Its Earthquake and Tsunami Centre director Dr Wan Azli Wan Hassan said the 2004 tsunami were followed by several minor earthquakes in Bukit Tinggi, Pahang.
Dr Wan Azli said yesterday's earthquake measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale was the strongest ever recorded in Malaysia.
He said an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8 was recorded in Lahat Datu in 1976 but it did not cause any injury or death.