Mayon spews ash Sunday morning

By Celso Amo LEGAZPI CITY --- Mayon Volcano spewed ash Sunday morning which reached about 500 meters above the crater and the ash column drifted towards Malilipot, Albay and Tabaco City at the northeast sector. Undersecretary Renato Solidum of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) who also serves as directorof the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology(Phivolcs) Director, said there was a degassing activity observed at Mayon Volcanowhich is still on Alert Level 2. Mayon Volcano’s ash-driven explosion occurred at about 12:00 a.m. of July 1 which lasted for a minute. It was the second phreatic explosion after the volcano’s alert level was downgraded to 2 last March. The first one was not observed due to cloud cover. “Most of that were water vapor accompanied by sulfur dioxide gas,” Solidum explained. He said the level of sulfur dioxide gas is still high at 1,000 tons per day compared to its normal output of 500 tons a day or lower. The level of sulfur gas output is consistent with the crater glow which is visible at night when the weather is fine, Solidum said. “Sometimes we monitored inflation at the slopes of the volcano which means there is still pressure inside,” he added. Solidum said it is possible rain water had seeped inside the crater but the most important data is that there is still magma inside and this magma undergoes hydrothermal activity and it also indicates that its movement is plugged which trigger an explosion due to pressure. “The phreatic explosion indicates that the present Mayon alert status at 2 cannot be lowered to one,” said the Phivolcs director. “The inflation showed that magma at the lower middle slope continues to rise that’s why we have not downgraded the present alert status of Mayon ,” he explained. Solidum also asked the help of the Philippine National Police to find and apprehend the suspects who stole the solar panel and batteries of the Mayon monitoring equipment. “Some of the lost spare parts were already replaced but it’s useless to replace them when they will be easily stolen,” said Solidum. No suspect has been arrested by the police so far. “We asked the help of local officials but what is important is that the suspects have to be apprehended,” he added. Solidum also said that seismic sensors had been placed at Isarog and Iriga -- the two active volcanoes located in Camarines Sur. “We placed those seismic sensors during the eruption of Mayon,” said Solidum. “Sometimes the volcanic quakes at Mayon were detected by the seismic sensors at Isarog and Iriga.” He said the seismic sensors can easily monitor the status and the changes of the level of activity of the two active volcanoes. He said Mt. Isarog could have last erupted 5,000 years ago.