PHIVOLCS continues monitoring of ‘restive’ Mayon volcano

By Jose Carretero, ABS-CBN Bicol

Posted at Jul 08 2009 08:41 PM | Updated as of Jul 09 2009 05:42 AM

LEGAZPI CITY - Mayon Volcano's crater floor so far has not showed signs of abnormalities, an official of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) in Legazpi City said.

Mayon Volcano

View Mayon Volcano and surrounding areas in a larger map

"Base sa nakita namin kanina hindi nagbago [ang] crater floor although may pagbanaag na nakita sa mga side. Pero kung may pagbabago man ‘yon, magkakaroon muna ‘yon ng pag-umbok o kaya magiging convex-looking ‘yong crater floor. Sa ngayon concave looking pa so may depression pa," said Phivolcs Legazpi resident volcanologist Ed laguerta in the aerial survey conducted Wednesday morning.

Laguerta said the shape of the volcano's crater floor indicate that there is no intense movement of magma. This does not mean that people can now be complacent, Laguerta said, since some indicators of Mayon's restiveness are present.

One indicator cited was the intense crater glow observed by PHIVOLCS and some residents especially those living at the footslope of the volcano. The glow has become very visible at night.

Laguerta explained this showed magma activity inside the volcano.

Aside from the crater glow, PHIVOLCS also observed an “inflation” of Mayon's edifice. A group of geologists are set to again conduct a ground deformation survey at Buang leveling site in Tabaco City to check if there are changes in the volcano's edifice.

PHIVOLCS is also set to check sulfur dioxide emission from the volcano and the volcanic quakes detected around Mayon. If these parameters will intensify this coming days, PHIVOLCS said, it will evaluate and will decide if they will need to raise the alert status of the volcano from level one to two.

Survey of population at risk

Meanwhile Albay Public Safety And Emergency Management Office (APSEMO) and Office of Civil Defense in Bicol Region are also on their toes.

Cedric Daep, APSEMO chair, said they will now start the survey of the population at risk. These are the residents living inside the danger zone. Daep said it would take at least a month or more to finish the survey. He added this will help them facilitate smooth evacuation should Mayon's restiveness continues and an evacuation is needed.

In the 2006 eruption of the volcano, APSEMO had recorded more than a thousand families living in areas at risk or inside the six-kilometer permanent danger zone. Most of them are farmers.

Avoiding the danger zones

While experts are conducting a 24/7 monitoring of the activity of Mayon volcano, disaster preparedness officials in Albay warned residents especially the farmers from entering the six-kilometer permanent danger zone and the seven to eight kilometer extended danger zone. They said minor explosions are possible.

Those farmers who are about to harvest their crops inside the danger zone were advised to be alert and not to stay in their farms overnight.

History of eruption

Mayon volcano’s last eruption happened in June until August of 2006. No one was hurt in the eruption. The most deadly eruption of Mayon happened in 1814 when thousands were killed because of pyroclastic flow. A church in Daraga Albay was also buried killing more than a thousand residents who sought refuge inside the chuch as pyroclastic flows ravaged the whole village. The only remnant was the church’s belfry. It is now called the Cagsawa ruins and has been a tourist destination in Albay province.