Official Publication of the Philippine Information Agency Bicol Regional Office, in cooperation with the RIAC-REDIRAS - RDC Bicol

Thursday, September 8, 2016

PHIVOLCS hoists Alert Level 1 for Mayon Volcano

By Julius B. Embile

LEGAZPI CITY, Sept. 8 (PIA) – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has raised this morning the alert level status of the Mayon volcano from Alert Level 0 to Alert Level 1 due to a series of abnormal geological behaviors observed by the institute.

According to Phivolcs, the shift from Alert Level 0 (normal status) to Alert Level 1 (abnormal status) indicates an abnormal condition of the volcano and has already entered a period of unrest. The observations prompting the change in the alert level are the increased gas emissions of the volcano, ground deformations, volcanic earthquake activities, and the decreased water discharge of well within the volcano’s proximity.

In a radio interview with Dr. Cedric Daep of the Albay Public Safety and Emergency Management Office, the raise in Mayon volcano’s alert level is more of a precaution and the authorities would be conducting further monitoring and surveillance to check is the abnormalities persists.

However, the provincial government of Albay has already taken the steps in ensuring public safety. A Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), with a six-kilometer radius from the crater, has been imposed and locked-off from civilian access due to dangers of sudden landslides, rockfalls, ash puffs, or steam-driven phreatic eruptions.

The authorities have also cautioned the locals living near the valleys and gullies of the volcano to be watchful for possible lahar flows. All activities, including livelihood like farming and gathering, within the 6-kilometers PDZ are advised to be ceased immediately.

Tourist and recreational activities, like mountain climbing and trekking, were also restricted. Activities beyond the lava front are temporarily prohibited, and the Mayon Skyline Hotel in Tabaco City may only accept visitors during the daytime.

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) has also issued a directive for the Disaster Risk Reduction Management Councils (DRRMCs) of all cities and municipalities, within the volcano’s perimeter, to submit the list of residents within the PDZ in order to facilitate a coordinated evacuation plan. All local governments concerned were also advised to intensify the security of the PDZ.

Since July of 2016, Phivolcs had observed consistent sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions or flux from Mayon volcano’s crater. Based on the campaign and continuous gas measurements, the said gas emissions had already gone beyond the 500 tons per day baseline, and have even exceeded 1000 tons per day. The institute also explains that the increased SO2 flux is caused by the rise of magma degasses, which moves at an increased rate, from beneath the volcano.

Also, there were also observations of continuous inflationary trend of the Mayon’s edifice, which Phivolcs also attribute to the magma movements in the volcano’s depths. Through the consistent monitoring of the institute’s GPS and tilt measurements, the said inflations were detected by Phivolcssince July, which was reinforced by the results of the leveling and electronic distance survey done on the last week of August.

Though it is not an exact indication of an impending eruption, Phivolcs also took into consideration the 146 recorded volcanic earthquakes from August 3 to August 6. Given that the earthquakes may or may not be related to any magma activity, they were still given consideration as they occurred as a swarm only 10 kilometers away from the southeast side of the volcano.

Another observation is the sudden decrease of water discharge of four water wells within the vicinity of the volcano, while another one has completely dried-up. Steaming activity from the crater has also ranged from weak to moderate. (MAL/JBE-PIA5)

- See more at: http://news.pia.gov.ph/article/view/3301473317987/phivolcs-hoists-alert-level-1-for-mayon-volcano#sthash.Kjl8MC4X.dpuf

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