By Paulo Loreto Lim
Following rockfall incidents and three steam-driven, or phreatic, eruptions reported at Mt. Mayon over the weekend, along with observed lava flow, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) declared an ‘Alert Level 3’ over the volcano last Sunday.
The organization and the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) had just declared an ‘Alert Level 2’ that morning.
Phivolcs defines the situation prompting an ‘Alert Level 3’ as when volcanic quakes are experienced more frequently; there are occurrences of rockfalls; and a sustained “crater glow,” which is typically indicative of lava flow. The alert also suggests an eruption is possible in the coming weeks.
Following the initial ‘Alert Level 2’ declaration, the PDRRMC evacuated over 3,000 residents living within the volcano’s six-kilometer permanent danger zone.
On Sunday morning, the three separate eruptions were recorded at 8:49 a.m., 10:50 a.m., and 11:43 a.m.
Meanwhile, Mt. Kanlaon has been at an ‘Alert Level 2’ since November 2017, after 249 volcanic earthquakes were recorded between November 14 and 15. While the number of quakes has since reduced, the elevated alert level remains in place as volcanologists believe the likely cause of the quakes is the intrusion of magma, or molten rock underneath the Earth’s surface, which, during a volcanic eruption, is ejected as lava./PLL, WDJ