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Mayon update, 21 December 2009 21 December 2009

Posted by admin in activity reports, eruptions, Mayon, Philippines.
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Activity at Mayon has continued to intensify, with a dramatic upswing in seismicity over the past 24 hours, reports Phivolcs in Mayon Bulletin no. 8:

Seismic activity dramatically increased in number and size. A total of 1,942 volcanic earthquakes was detected by the seismic network. Many of these volcanic earthquakes were recorded at maximum deflection and continually occurred beginning at 1221H yesterday. Harmonic tremors were also continuously recorded.

Sulphur dioxide emissions have remained at a high level of 6,089 tonnes/day. Booming and rumbling sounds have been heard, intensified crater glow and continuous ejection of incandescent material has been visible overnight, and the advancing lava front has reached 5 km downslope of the crater. Strombolian activity has also been observed, with lava fountains reaching about 200 m above the crater.

The evacuation of at-risk populations near the volcano is into its final stages, with the authorities taking steps to remove local inhabitants who have so far refused to leave their homes and farms. The lessons of previous eruptions, particularly regarding the potential reach of pyroclastic flows and lahars, have not been lost on the Philippines authorities: ‘The probability of survival in an eruption is zero if you’re in the danger area’, Albay Governor Salceda has said, ‘The solution is obviously distance’. Phivolcs has reassured people that Mayon, with its less volatile lavas, is ‘safer’ than Pinatubo: ‘Mayon’s possible eruption would not be in the scale and intensity of Pinatubo’s eruption in 1991, considered the second largest eruption of the 20th century worldwide, although Mayon’s current activity is more energetic than when it erupted in 2006’.

Many local people have been reluctant to leave their homes and properties, with farmers proving particularly good at evading the checkpoints and returning home to check on animals and crops. The government have reassured farmers that livestock will also be evacuated to state agricultural stations where veterinary care will be available; meanwhile, the health of human evacuees, threatened by overcrowding and lack of safe drinking water, is also a concern. The authorities have made it clear that they will do everything short of using physical force to get people away from the danger zone: soldiers will be sent in to ‘nag them non-stop’ according to one disaster management official, and the deployment of clowns is being seriously considered.

For all our Mayon coverage: Mayon « The Volcanism Blog.

Thousands warned to flee Philippine volcano zone – AFP, 21 December 2009
Mayon ‘safer’ than PinatuboManila Bulletin, 21 December 2009
Albay evacuees assured of safe drinking water – GMANews.TV, 21 December 2009
Philippine volcano gets louder, could blow up soon – Associated Press, 21 December 2009
Clowns to lure people from Mayon danger zonePhilippine Daily Inquirer, 21 December 2009

Global Volcanism Program: Mayon – summary information for Mayon (0703-03=)
Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology – website for Phivolcs

The Volcanism Blog


1. andy ligsanan - 21 December 2009

i just hope all the residents living within the considerable unsafe distant may move to a safer area.

2. Brian D - 21 December 2009

Looks like some moderate tectonic activity in the northern and southern areas of the country today. And with a Full Moon in perigee coming up at the end of the month, shouldn’t be much longer.

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