Lava flows out from Mayon’s southeast flank


Lava flowed out from the southeast flank of Mayon Volcano yesterday, indicating a high level of unrest towards an imminent eruption as it threatens four villages within the extended seven-kilometer danger zone whose residents have not yet evacuated.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) warned barangays Matanag, Mabinit, Buyuan and Bonga could be initially hit by lava pouring out from the volcano once the explosion occurs.

Phivolcs regional volcanologist Ed Laguerta said the lava poured out 100 meters from where the lava dome was located at 5 a.m. yesterday.

He said the lava could have flowed down slope further compared to the flow observed a week ago that reached some 350 meters from the eastern portion of Bonga Gulley facing Legazpi-Daraga.

“The volume is bigger and the stretch wider compared to the lava which flowed at the right side of the lava dome last Oct. 12,” he said.

Seismic network recorded two volcanic earthquakes during the past 24 hours related to the ascent of degassed magma from Mayon’s previous eruption.

“What flowed out was not yet the new magma we are expecting which could trigger the eruption,” Laguerta said, explaining a degassed magma is viscous and produces sluggish moving lava.

Aside from the lava flow, the faint crater glow is intensifying due to the magma at the crater, although it cannot yet be observed during inclement weather.

“If what came out were fresh magma, the soft eruption which started Sept. 12 can now normally proceed to a full-blown eruption,” he warned.

Moderate emission has changed from whitish to brownish steam plumes that drifted west and northwest due to the presence of ash at a shallow source.

The low output of sulfur dioxide emission at 269 tons could be due to sealed gas pores at the column from the viscous magma, Philvolcs said.

“We have to maintain the present Alert Level 3 to prepare for sudden changes in parameters as the volcano gathers enough pressure underneath towards an eruption,” Laguerta said.

Laguerta is requesting the Office of Civil Defense for another aerial survey to verify the exact source, volume and location of lava flow as well as the overall status of the 8,077-foot volcano.

Albay Public Safety and Management Office chief Cedric Daep said the evacuation of some 46,317 villagers inside 47 evacuation centers will be maintained.

Col. Raul Farnacio, Task Force Mayon commander, said 30 vehicles are ready to evacuate those at the 8-kilometer buffer zone when Alert Level 4 is raised.

Farnacio is also asking the help of local officials to monitor the evacuees inside the centers to prevent them from coming back or harvesting their crops within the high-risk zone.

Tourist arrivals in the area had declined even after the level threat was raised.

Department of Tourism regional director Maria Ravanilla said bored domestic and foreign tourists have packed up their bags. via The Philippine Star

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