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Phivolcs: Sudden explosions common to active volcanoes

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PhivolcsMANILA, May 8 (Mabuhay) – Five more active volcanoes are now being closely monitored by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) after Mayon Volcano in Albay on Tuesday spewed rocks and ashes.

Aside from Mayon, Volcano Monitoring Chief Mariton Bornas identified the following volcanoes under close watch:

Taal Volcano in Batangas,
Pinatubo in Zambales,
Bulusan in Sorsogon,
Kanlaon in Negros Oriental, and
Hibok Hibok in Camiguin.

Most, if not all, of these volcanoes are the most popular and most frequented hiking spots of local and foreign travelers alike.

Bornas warned that the permanent danger zone is enforced in these areas as the volcanoes are capable of phreatic explosions at any given time just like what Mayon manifested on Tuesday.

“As much as possible, bawal pumasok sa permanent danger zone dahil ang mga active volcanoes palaging may risk. Pwede magkaroon ng mga steam-driven explosions, rockfalls at landslide,” she said.

At present, five of the six closely monitored volcanoes are under alert level 0. Only Taal Volcano is on alert level 1.

But Phivolcs said alert level 0 does not mean it is safe and the permanent danger zone is lifted.

Bornas said, “Kahit nga alert level 0, pwede magka-lahar kapag umulan, ni hindi kailangan ng volcanic unrest.”

Phivolcs explained that shallow explosions like phreatic events continue to be undetected anywhere else in the world, and such explosions could push rocks, ash and stones formed at the top and slopes of the summit downward.

“It’s a common phenomena among active volcanoes. Kung kailan mangyayari, wala pang technology in any other parts of the world that can detect that,” Bornas said.

Taal Volcano, however, is now showing signs of inflations on the summit, which is one of the indications of a stronger explosion, that is, magmatic explosion.

Bornas said there are also instances that seismic activity or earthquakes are more than normal in Taal. “Meron pa ring panahon na medyo mataas siya, meron din slight na pamamaga ang bulkan.”

Mayon Volcano, on the other hand, has manifested normal parameters in the pat 24 hours, she said.

Phivolcs has sent a team to Mayon to measure the levels of sulfur dioxide, a precursor to magmatic explosions. There has been no increase in the number of earthquake, making the conditions normal so far.

Phivolcs, however, reiterated its warning that the risk is always present whatever the alert level is on all of these active volcanoes.

“Ipinapaalala namin sa mga travellers na may risk, laging may threat,” Bornas said. (MNS)

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