PHIVOLCS raises alert level 4 over Mayon Volcano

Photo by Al Francis Bihara/CNN Philippines

via CNNPhilippines – Authorities on Monday raised the alert level over Mayon to below a notch of the highest warning of a dangerous eruption.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) declared alert level 4 which warns of an imminent hazardous eruption — possibly within days. Level 5 means a hazardous eruption is taking place.

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council-Operations Center also raised a red alert status over the restless volcano.

PHIVOLCS reported “increased seismic unrest, lava fountaining, and summit explosions” in the area. The danger zone has been extended to eight kilometers frpm the previous seven.

PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum warned obf two possible scenarios in a press conference on Monday: continuous lava eruptions, or a more dangerous pyroclastic flow.

A pyroclastic flow is a mix of hot lava blocks, pumice, ash, and volcanic gas that moves at high speed down a volcano, according to the United States Geological Survey.

Solidum said this eruption was a possible “smaller version [of the] 2001 eruption,” which had pyroclastic flow.

He also observed the plumes of smoke were mostly white, and could be attributed to water being mixed with the lava.

Solidum recounted that Mayon only had lava explosions in 2006 and 2009. A 2014 eruption also spewed out limited deposits. To date, the largest eruption has been in 1984, with the danger zone stretching to 11 kilometers.

He estimated that a possible pyroclastic flow would reach up to three kilometers in this eruption.

“The public is reminded to observe the danger zone — not to panic, but in essence just be ready. Prepare either gas masks, handkerchiefs or clothes to prevent inhalation of fine ash,” said Solidum.

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