Bichara bans hikers in Mayon Volcano

By Rhaydz B. Barcia

Albay Governor Al Francis Bichara has prohibited trekking in Mayon Volcano as its crater dome might collapse anytime despite of normal situation.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology [Phivolcs] issued a bulletin last July 30, 2021 lowering the alert status of Mayon Volcano from alert level 1 [abnormal] to 0 [normal] due to the decline of volcanic earthquakes, decreasing ground deformation of the edifice, reduction of sulfur dioxide emission, summit glow observable only through a telescope and other physical parameters showing normalcy.

But the Albay Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (PDRRMC) issued a directive on Aug. 11 prohibiting trekking in Mayon Volcano’s summit as hazards remains even if Mayon had returned to normal status.

Bichara said that careful analysis suggests that other hazards are still present even during normal situation of the volcano, thus, the Albay PDRRMC is hereby issuing an advisory maintaining prohibition of climbing, hiking and trekking to the crater of Mayon Volcano due to the presence of viscous lava that accumulated in the summit crater during the 2018 eruption resulted in the formation of dome that can explode if triggered by rainfall causing ashfalls and volcanic cinders/bombs that will plunge along the slopes of the volcano within the prohibited 6 Km permanent danger zone (PDZ).

He said the current configuration of the summit crater is tilted towards the southern side of the volcano due to the passage of lava flow causing the collapse of the crater rim from the 2018 eruption. Large fragments of lava deposits located in the upper slopes may still be hot beneath the surface and can collapse triggering pyroclastic flow downslope within the 6 km PDZ.

And so rockfalls can occur from unstable rock fragments triggered by gravity or earthquakes. The above conditions remain hazardous to hikers/climbers of Mayon Volcano particularly in the southern quadrants, the governor said.