Either vulcanian or strombolian, Mayon eruption is deadly

By , on September 30, 2014


Mayon Volcano eruption on December 29, 2009. Tryfon Topalidis / Wikipedia photo
Mayon Volcano eruption on December 29, 2009. Tryfon Topalidis / Wikipedia photo

MANILA – Experts have not established whether Mayon Volcano is headed for a vulcanian type of eruption or a strombolian blast. Either of the two however, is deadly.

“The characteristics that Mayon is showing are [those] of a vulcanian eruption, or maybe even a strombolian eruption,” Director Renato Solidum of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) told reporters on Monday.

A strombolian blast is characterized by a fairly quiet lava emission down the volcano’s slopes while a vulcanian eruption has strong explosions, multiple pyroclastic flows or a fast-moving mix of hot gas and rocks, and lava cascading down the volcano slopes.

Based on the Mayon’s eruption history, either of the two types can be deadly.

In February 1814, the most destructive eruption of Mayon killed 1,200 people and destroyed the now famous, Cagsawa church.

The volcano is currently emitting around 30 million cubic meters of magma, similar to its 2009 eruption, according to Solidum.

“The volume of magma is just like the 2009 eruption,” he said.

As the magma coming from the volcano solidifies, the 30 million cubic meters will be equal to 3 million truckloads of rocks.

This continuous rise of magma, according to Solidum, may be a reason for them not to consider the volcano to be in a “quiet eruption.”

“We need to remind people that the magma is already there on the summit,” he said.