Mayon Volcano in the province of Albay is famous for having a “perfect cone” shape, its beauty prodding the government to declare it a natural park and a protected landscape in 1938.
But nowadays, this natural wonder is temporarily closed from the public, prohibiting tourist activities such as mountain climbing and ATV driving within its 6-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) because of its possible eruption. Entering the PDZ puts people at risk, not only for its sudden explosion, but also for rock fall and landslides.
What makes the situation different from past abnormalities is the presence of a 30 to 40-meter lava dome on what PHILVOLCS calls our country’s most active volcano, a swelling on the 200-meter crater that releases smoke. If the lava dome increases its size, blocks the crater and is followed by a consistent, intense degassing, a full blast explosion will occur.
PHIVOLCS has kept the warning on Alert Level 2 as Mayon continues to emit volcanic gas. Its anticipated “big bang” is predicted to be magmatic, affecting over 28,000 families in 66 barangays. But the voluminous pyroclastic flows composed of hot rocks and gas are not the sole threat; volcanic ash fall is also a risk that comes without precursors. Ash fall comprises of pulverized minerals and rocks, which may inflict discomfort to the eyes, skin and respiratory system. Also, its large volume can cause roofs to collapse.
It has been four years since the volcano’s last eruption, which typically happens within an interval of four to twelve years. Although there were just three to six-year intervals in Mayon’s recent eruptions, its potential major outburst can be observed at least three months in advance, with the help of PHIVOLCS’ instruments and observation of the volcano’s physical appearance.
Over 30,000 individuals may need to evacuate from the slopes of the volcano in the next few days. Albay Governor Joey Salceda has also issued a health advisory last August 19 (Tuesday), including the identification of evacuation centers per local government unit, deployment of a rapid assessment and survey team, water facilities, toilet facilities, a disposal system and medical stations, among others.
DISTINCT VOLCANIC EVENTS
The Mayon volcano has a lengthy history of activity. Here are some of its noteworthy eruptions:
February 1, 1814
Considered as the most destructive eruption of Mayon with 1,200 deaths to lahar that buried homes in Cagsawa, Malinao and Mounts Marasaga and Catburauan. This also led to the submerging of Cagsawa Church, now Cagsawa Ruins.
June 4 – July 23, 1897
350 people died during its 17-hour violent phase, mostly due to pyroclastic flows.
December 14, 2009
Alert level 3 was raised after 83 volcanic quakes transpired in just one day leading residents to an almost 2-month stay in evacuation sites. There were no casualties in spite of the lava flows and increased sulfur dioxide emissions.
May 7, 2013
Five climbers died due to a sudden spewing of ash and rocks from the volcano.
For more facts about the Mayon Volcano, check out the photo below:
George Vincent Gamayo is a senior segment producer of Panahon TV aired daily at 5:00 AM on the People’s Television (PTV). He is also the writer and director of PROJECT DINA or Disaster Information for Nationwide Awareness, a flagship project of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and Office of Civil Defense which serves as a public exposition and access of disaster risk reduction and management information materials.