Mount Mayon volcano threatens full-blown eruption

By on October 7, 2014

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

MANILA, Philippines — Mayon volcano is at risk of a big eruption as magma continued to flow underneath its surface and started to rise towards its crater.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) in Bicol raised to critical the alert level of Mount Mayon which billowed smoke and spewed lava and hot boulders.

The 8,077-foot high volcano’s alert level has been moved up to three out of five, signifying ‘relatively high unrest.’ A five on the scale is stated only in the event of an active eruption.

Lava was already flowing and can be seen even at a distance of 12 kilometers away from Mayon.

Phivolcs Chief Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said that magma intrusion is taking place beneath Mayon volcano as its surface remains inflated.

Seismologists said the volcano is in fact erupting already but not at an explosive level.

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said that the magma gathering could conclude to a large-scale eruption within a few weeks. If such an eruption takes place, it would threaten all sides of Mount Mayon as it has perfect cone.

The volume of sulfur dioxide emission is needed to find out whether the degassing process has been sustained due to magma intrusion towards the surface of Mayon volcano.

However, the volume of sulfur dioxide emission could not be measured yet due to recent heavy rains over the volcano.

A small eruption might occur once rainwater leaks into the crater and makes contact with fresh magma at the upper vent of Mount Mayon.

Phivolcs will examine the new images of the lava dome taken during an aerial survey yesterday morning.  Laguerta said that the findings will be presented in today’s media briefing at the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office.

Government officials previously ordered mandatory evacuation of around 24,000 people who were living within Mayon’s eight-kilometer permanent danger zone. The evacuation process, which began on Sept. 16, has already been completed.

The local government had no problems with the evacuation except for some residents who refused to evacuate because they were hesitant to leave their homes and means of livelihood.

“They don’t want to leave their houses and their livelihood. These are coconut and orchid farmers with chickens, pigs and carabaos (water buffalo),” Solidum said.

Mayon volcano has erupted 50 times in the past five centuries. The most devastating eruption was in 1814 when it killed over 1,200 people and destroyed several nearby towns.

With report from Cyra Moraleda