Mayon Volcano shows signs of restiveness; Alarm raised to level 1
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay, Philippines—Volcanologists have raised the state of alert around Mayon Volcano from normal to Level 1 after the volcano exhibited some abnormalities, mainly bluish steam emissions and a persistent although weak crater glow, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Saturday.
Eduardo Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, said the level of the volcanic alarm was raised Friday afternoon after volcanologists noted that besides the steam emission and crater glow, Phivolcs’ instruments had detected slight bulging or inflations in two areas of the volcano’s structure—one on the northwest side facing Barangay Buang in Tabaco City; and the other on the southwest section facing Barangay Lidong in Sto. Domingo town.
He explained the volcano’s slight deformation and crater glow might be an indication that magma activity was increasing beneath the volcano.
Laguerta stressed, however, that there were no indications of an imminent eruption as the other characteristics were not yet present, such as low and high frequency volcanic quakes, high sulphur dioxide emissions, lava fountaining, lava flows, magmatic activities, pyroclastic flows and steam and ash explosions.
The raising of alert status prompted the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) to issue a public notice strictly prohibiting any “human activity” inside the six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone around the volcano.
Albay Gov. Joey Salceda directed local disaster councils, various village chiefs, the police and the military to enforce the “no human activity” restriction, including mountain climbing, farming, orchids gathering and ATV (all-terrain vehicle) tours within the danger zone.
He advised the disaster councils of the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco and the towns of Daraga, Camalig, Sto Domingo, Malilipot and Guinobatan to be on alert and closely monitor advisories released by Phivolcs and the PDRRMC.
In its bulletin on Saturday morning, Phivolcs said that during its past 36-hour observation period, Mount Mayon continued to emit weak and short-lived bluish fumes with persistent crater glow of Intensity 1 (weak).
The 2,462-meter-high volcano had a steam-driven phreatic explosion on May 7 that sent a three-kilometer-high ash cloud, killing five mountaineers—three Germans, a Spaniard and their local guide.
Two weeks after the incident, the authorities rescued a lone Russian mountaineer who called for help after getting lost and breaking a leg during a solo climb on the volcano without getting a permit.
PDRRMC data showed that Mount Mayon’s last recorded eruption was in December 2009 during which 8,637 families or 40,991 persons living in 30 villages at the foot of the volcanoe had to be evacuated.
Phivolcs strongly reiterated that the six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone was off-limits to the public because of the constant danger of rockfalls, avalanches, ash puffs and sudden phreatic or steam-driven eruptions.