Thieves steal equipment at Phivolcs’ hydro laboratory

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Thieves carted away two batteries and two solar panels owned by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s (Phivolcs’) hydro laboratory equipment that monitor water wells in Barangay Padang. Ed Laguerta, Mayon resident volcanologist based at Ligñon Hill Observatory, said the equipment could have been stolen last week. He said Phivolcs’ technicians only discovered the loss on Friday last week. “We are going to file a blotter at the police station,” said Laguerta. Phivolcs also lost its power supply and batteries at its monitoring station in Barangay Padang last January 10. Items taken were Trojan 12 volts 100 Ah batteries worth P37,209.26 and Zocen monocrystalline solar panel worth P3,500 while two solar charge controllers worth P49,565.82 were damaged. The thieves also caused a short circuit on its solar charge controller inside the monitoring station. Renato Solidum, Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Undersecretary and Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director has appealed to local authorities to help safeguard its equipment. “These equipment do not just belong to Phivolcs but to the people of Albay,” said Solidum. Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal is supporting the idea to hire security guards to regularly watch over Phivolcs’ equipment which are critical in ensuring the safety and security of Albayanos as they are instrumental in monitoring and determining in advance emerging hostile behavior of the volcano and other impending disasters. Meanwhile, Mayon’s activity in the past 24 hours was characterized by generally quiet lava effusion and degassing from the summit crater. Friday last week, from 10:32 a.m. and 1:44 p.m., six episodes of lava-collapse pyroclastic density currents (PDC) were visually observed on the Miisi, Basud and Bonga-Buyuan Gullies within 4-5 kilometers of the summit crater. At night, lava effusion from the vent continued to feed lava flows that have maintained fronts at 3.3 kilometers, 4.5 kilometers and 900 meters on the Miisi, Bonga and Basud Gullies, respectively, from the summit crater. A total of three volcanic earthquakes and eight rockfall events were recorded by Mayon’s seismic monitoring network. Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission was measured at an average of 2,070 tons a day last February 23. Deflation of the lower slopes that began on February 20 was recorded by electronic tilt, consistent with the transition to quiet lava efffusion at the summit crater. Nonetheless, overall electronic tilt and continuous GPS data indicate that the volcano remains swollen or inflated. Alert Level 4 is still in effect over Mayon Volcano. The public is strongly advised to be vigilant and desist from entering the 8-kilometer-radius danger zone, and to be additionally vigilant against pyroclastic density currents, lahars and sediment-laden stream flows along channels draining the edifice.