Albay prepares for Mayon ‘big bang’

Aerial Surver of Mayon Volcano Crater

LEGAZPI CITY(PNA) -– The present condition of Mt. Mayon may lead to a big explosion, Ed Laguerta, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) resident volcanologist said.

Laguerta issued the statement during the Mayon condition assessment meeting led by Albay Governor Joey Sarte Salceda and attended by officials of the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), Regional Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (RDRRMC) and local government unit executives at the AECID conference room of the APSEMO building here.

Laguerta said it has been four years now since the volcano last erupted in 2009.

He said in the past, Mayon usually erupted within an interval of 7-12 years. Its recent eruptions, however, occurred within an interval of just 3-6 years, he added.

The veteran volcanologist cited as an example the eruptions in 1993, 1999, 2001, 2006 and 2009.

Laguerta stressed the importance of close monitoring of the activities of Mayon physically and through the Phivolcs' various instruments on the geophysical, geochemical and geodetic aspects of the volcano.

The geodetic aspect refers to the shape of the volcano – and, he said, the volcano is inflated.

The geochemical behavior of Mayon, Laguerta said, refers to the volume of sulphur oxide (SO2) it spews, whose baseline is 500 metric tons per day.

He said the present volume of SO2 being vomited by Mayon reaches at least a thousand metric tons; while the geophysical aspect touches on the movement of magma inside the volcano.

The Phivolcs official said the lava dome that has formed on the mouth of Mayon reaches up to 30-50 meters high.

“Definitely, Mayon will explode though we cannot tell when,” he said, adding “It might be in the next few days, weeks, months or one year.”

Laguerta, however, assured that if ever Mayon erupts, it would not be sudden and it will be recorded by the instruments and be evident through the physical appearance of the volcano.

He said the first risk that will be brought by volcano would be ash puffs, followed by ash falls -- and these will not have signs or precursors.

He said the big eruption of the volcano will be magmatic, wherein there will be voluminous pyroclastic flows like in the 1984 eruption.

Laguerta said it has been 13 years since Mayon last erupted in 2001 when there was pyroclastic flow.

It was a lava flow in 2006 and 2009.

Jun Dalida, deputy administrator of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration, noted the increase in temperature in Legazpi City.

Dalida said the normal temperature in the city is only 32 degrees Celsius but it has now reached 34.2 degrees Celsius.

In this connection, Salceda discussed with the officials present the measures to be undertaken by the province based on the recommendations of the Phivolcs.

Salceda underscored the need for a massive information drive or communication with the public on the situation of the volcano.

The governor also stressed the need to bring to evacuation centers those who live within the six-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone.

He said the National Housing Authority was not able to fund their proposed relocation homes.

These include the 733 families in Camalig, 19 in Guinobatan and 3,222 families in Tabaco City. (PNA) LAP/FGS/NIM/CBD/UTB

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