Thursday, March 23, 2006

Phillippines' volcano still shows some activity

BULUSAN volcano emits a continuous jet of steam after belching ash high into the sky overnight, but scientists say there is no imminent danger of a violent eruption.

Mount Bulusan spewed 1.5-kilometer-high ash columns into the sky at 10:58 p.m. Tuesday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said. No one was reported hurt.
Jaime Sincioco, in charge of monitoring volcanoes at the government institute, said the activity was followed by three more separate phreatic explosions -- ash puffs caused by magma coming into contact with water.

"There is strong steaming activity," Sincioco said.

More eruptions were expected "in view of the volcano's recent reactivation" following volcanic quakes on Saturday, Phivolcs said in its bulletin on Wednesday.

The 5,115-foot volcano, located in Sorsogon province, 390 kilometers southeast of Manila, has been rumbling since Saturday.

The steam-driven explosion lasted for 20 minutes and was
accompanied by four earthquakes, Phivolcs said.

“The explosion indicates there is abnormality,” Phivolcs director Renato Solidum told GMA Network’s “Saksi” newscast, adding very light ash falls were reported in several villages north, west and southwest of the volcano in the towns of Irosin and Juban.

"This recent ash explosion is more or less typical of Bulusan's activity during its restive period," Phivolcs said.

The explosion was accompanied by one explosion-type earthquake, and followed by three more explosion-type earthquakes recorded at 11:30 p.m., 11:32 p.m. and 11:37 p.m., Phivolcs said.
Very light ash falls poured down on the villages of Cogon, Tinampo, Gulang-Gulang and Bolos in Irosin; Puting Sapa and Bura-Buran in Juban; and some other villages in Sorsogon province.
Sincioco said the last time the volcano acted up in the same way was between November 1994 and January 1995.

He said volcanic ash was being collected to determine how deep inside the mountain it originated. Ground deformation also will be measured to discover whether fresh magma is rising.

The institute raised the five-stage alert level on the volcano from 0 to 1 to indicate "abnormality or unrest" after an increase in volcanic quakes, said Sincioco.

The agency warned people to stay away from areas within four kilometers from the crater.
Phivolcs has dispatched its Quick Response Team to augment the monitoring networks around the volcano. It has also raised alert level 1 in Bulusan, designating the four-kilometer radius around the volcano as permanent danger zone.

The PDZ is an area that should be off-limits to the public because this will be affected by sudden steam explosions.

Mount Bulusan has had 15 recorded eruptions. It last erupted in January 2005.
The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common. In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo in the northern Philippines exploded in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions in the 20th century.

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