Monday, July 31, 2006

1,500 families risk it all by staying on the slope of erupting volcano in Indonesia

Thousands of villagers living around the slopes of Indonesia's Mount Karangetang are tending their fields while the simmering volcano emits lava.Around 1,500 families living on the slopes of the volcano in North Sulawesi were evacuated to safe shelters last Thursday. Scientists declared they feared an eruption was imminent a day later.

Kristianto, a scientist at a monitoring post on Karangetang's slopes says the people are used to the mountain's eruptions and only return to the safe shelters in the evenings.He says Karangetang, located on Siau island is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, and continues to emit lava as well as shoot sparks from its crater. He says activity appears for the moment to be easing.

Volcano's ashes cause evacuation in Indonesia

Thousands of villagers were evacuated after a volcano on an island off Indonesia's eastern coast started spewing lava and hot clouds, officials said Friday.

Mount Karangetang, one of the country's most active volcanos, is located on the Sulawesi island chain.

It started spewing lava and hot ash on Thursday, prompting officials to evacuate 3,941 people from five villages, said Iskandar Gobel, a North Sulawesi provincial secretary.

Police in the area said evacuations were continuing.

Indonesia, the world's largest archipelago, is prone to seismic upheaval due to its location on the so-called Pacific "Ring of Fire,'' an arc of volcanos and fault lines encircling the Pacific Basin.

People get close to Mayon's lava instead of running away from it!

LAVA from Mayon Volcano threatened to burn coconut groves along its slopes yesterday as dozens of awed onlookers flocked to the edge of the flow, officials said.

The volcano came to life in a mild eruption on June 14, oozing lava from the crater of the 2,474-meter mountain.

The Philippines’ chief volcanologist said the lava flow was still moving very slowly down Mayon, which continued to show signs of a possible explosive eruption as opposed to the mild episode now.

There are coconut trees in the path of the lava, but there are no houses close to the molten rocks, according to Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
Cedric Daep, disaster action officer for Albay province, said local officials had started fumigating shelters to get rid of mosquitoes in preparation for a possible mass evacuation.

Solidum, in Manila where he is receiving reports from scientists in the field, said sulfur dioxide gas readings—indicators of impending eruption—were “very high” at about 3,000 to 10,000 tons daily last week, compared with the normal level of 500 tons.

“The scenarios will be continuous lava flow or there might be a shift to an explosive phase,” Solidum said.

He said that based on previous events, a steady increase in sulfur dioxide emissions could end in an eruption.

A sudden decrease after very high readings could also result in a large explosion, which is characterized by tall ash columns and pyroclastic flows, which are clouds of extremely hot gases, ash and other debris that race down mountain slopes at high speed, incinerating everything in their path.

Earthquakes may signal rising magma levels and the “inflation” of the mountain, all signs of a possible violent eruption, Solidum said.

Scientists said many channels were filling up with fresh lava and other debris that were rolling down at 250 meters a day, threatening several towns at the volcano’s feet.

The most advanced lava front was less than a kilometer away from the 6-km permanent-danger zone, volcanologist Ed Laguerta said.

‘What worries [volcanologists] are the pyroclastic flows that could threaten the lives of residents who are still tending their farms at the foot of the volcano,” he said.

In Tabaco City, some 114 families from Magapo village voluntarily left their homes and sought refuge at the San Antonio Elementary School.

Yesterday, dozens of residents and local tourists flocked to the village of Mabinit on the outskirts of Legazpi City to watch in awe as lava fragments crumbled, exposing molten rocks beneath.
One man went up to one of the rocks to light a cigarette. Some posed for pictures with the smoldering lava deposit more than five stories high behind them as a backdrop.

Vegetation close to the edge of the flow caught fire or was singed.

Local residents said a small private chapel made of wood, abandoned after an eruption in 2001, had already been covered by volcanic debris.

Mayon is one of the Philippines’ 22 active volcanos. Its most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79 people.

The Philippines is in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Karangetan volcano causes 3000 people to flee the area

More than 3,000 villagers fled to safety Friday after Mt. Karangetan on Northeast Sulawesi's Siau island began belching hot gas and lava.

Mixing with heavy rain, lava from the volcano has created streams of lahar which have gushed down the mountain's slopes and inundated a village.

No one has been reported injured in the eruptions, which reached their peak in the past three days after the mountain rumbled to life two weeks ago.

The first assistant to the North Sulawesi governor, Iskandar L. Gobel, told The Jakarta Post Friday the volcano's status had been lifted to condition red Tuesday.

He said residents from five villages located around the island's volcano, which lies to the north of Manado, had been evacuated to safety.

A senior volcanologist, Saut Simatupang, told Reuters the volcano was spewing hot gas clouds as far as 2.5 kilometers to the southern and southeastern parts of the island.

"Since it (the cloud) is near the villagers' homes we have upgraded the mountain to the top alert status," he said.

"(However) the latest activity is tending to show a decrease, with the hot gas clouds declining (in frequency)."

From Siau, teacher Oly Antameng told the Post the volcano had regularly coughed up gas and hot lava during the past few weeks but the lava came only Thursday after heavy rain.

"We're on alert in case more mud and rocks run down the mountain with the rain. But all residents living near the volcano have been evacuated to safety," she said.

Head of East Siau district R. Areros said the mudflows were still under control although several residential areas in Ulu Siau village, located close to the lahar's route, had been emptied.

"Some houses have been abandoned to avoid the danger of the lahar," he said. The evacuation was made following an instruction from Sangihe Regent Winsulangi Salindeho.

He said that so far, no casualties had been reported although activities in the Ulu Siau area had been disrupted since the mudflows began to block roads.

Gobel said some 800 families or 3,900 people from six villages had fled to safety by Friday. More than 1,000 people had moved to safe zones during the past two weeks, he said.

Karangetan is the latest volcano in the country to be put on high alert status after East Java's Mount Merapi spewed hot gas clouds and lava for more than two months before cooling down.

According to data from the mining resources and energy office in Manado, Karangetan's first recorded eruption was in 1675, with no casualties mentioned.

This was followed by further eruptions in 1712, 1825, 1864, 1883 and 1885. The latest was recorded in 1940, in which two people died and nine others were injured. The eruption also destroyed nearby coconut and nutmeg plantations.

A new type of volcano is born!

A series of mysterious eruptions in the western Pacific could be caused by a new type of volcano, a new study suggests.

Three processes are responsible for the
formation of volcanoes on Earth, according to theories:
The planet's tectonic plates, which move around something like broken eggshells on water, can
move away from each other, allowing magma to seep up.

The plates can also move towards each other, forcing eruptions.

Plumes of magma well up from deep inside the Earth.

In the July 28 issue of the journal Science, researchers report the discovery of tiny active volcanoes on the Pacific Plate that aren't caused by any of these mechanisms.

These small volcanoes may be widespread on ocean floors where the mantle just under the crust is squeezed out by tectonic forces when one plate moves under another, the researchers explained.

"The possibility of this type of volcanism had been proposed in the past, but had never been adequately documented," said study co-author Naoto Hirano of Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego Ultimately. "We believe that these volcanoes should be classified as a fourth type of volcanism."

Dubbed "petit spots," these new types of volcanoes are difficult to spot using satellite technology. Specific geophysical and sampling expeditions would have to be carried out in order to locate them, Hirano explained.

Mount Mayon creates a raise of tourism in the Phillipines!

Richard Paraguya was burning up the phone lines, booking foreign and local tourists keen to see a volcano in the central Philippines that began spewing lava, ash and rocks the size of cars in mid-July.

The rumbling of Mount Mayon, the most active of 22 volcanoes in the Southeast Asian country, prompted volcanologists to raise the alert level to 3 on a 1-5 scale.

The government has told thousands of people living on Mayon's slopes to evacuate a danger zone of 6 km (4 miles) around the summit but hundreds of tourists, armed with cameras and tripods, were coming in droves to watch.

'It's really an amazing sight at night,' said Paraguya of Royal Quest Tours in Daraga town, where the ruins of a Roman Catholic church stand as the only structure to survive a mighty eruption in 1814.

'While people were supposed to be fleeing from an erupting volcano, we're getting swamped with inquiries and bookings for even an overnight stay to view Mayon.'

This week, Paraguya brought two busloads of Filipino tourists to one of 11 sites identified by the local tourism department as safe spots to view Mayon's slow eruption.

Maria Ravanilla, the tourism department's regional director, said there had been a marked rise in tourist arrivals in Legazpi City, the political, social and business hub of Albay province.

'Our hotels and inns have been reporting more than 50 percent occupancy when normally they would only be registering about 30 percent to 36 percent during this period,' said Ravanilla.
She said the two daily flights from Manila were packed with American, European and South Korean tourists, who were staying for an average of two nights.

The government of Legazpi City has put up streamers and posters to encourage tourists to 'dare an active volcano' or view 'the spectacular display of beauty in fury'.

Ravanilla said more tourists were on the way as volcano experts warned of a possible full-scale eruption within weeks.

'We're expecting occupancy rates to shoot up to 80 percent once the big bang comes,' she said, noting the arrivals during this year's volcanic activity were much larger than for eruptions in 2000 and 2001.

The Philippines is on the 'Ring of Fire', a belt of volcanoes circling the Pacific Ocean that is also prone to earthquakes.

Mayon, in the central Bicol region, has erupted about 50 times over the last 400 years. The most destructive was in 1841 when lava flows buried a town, killing 1,200 people.

Indonesian volcanon gets raise in alert status

Indonesia has raised the alert status of Karangetang volcano in the country's eastern region by one level to its highest after activity increased, the Directorate of Vulcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation said today.

Karangetang volcano, which lies at the northern end of Siau island in North Sulawesi province, has been spewing lava and hot clouds since July 22, the agency said. The 1,784-meter (5,853- feet) volcano had more than 40 recorded eruptions since 1675, according to U.S. Geological Survey.
Officials evacuated as many as 1,000 villagers as Karangetang shot lava as far as 2 kilometers south of the slope, China's Xinhua news agency reported, citing Kristianto, an official on duty at the volcano's monitoring post.

Indonesia has been hit by natural disasters this year, including thousands of people evacuated as Mount Merapi, located in the nation's most densely populated island of Java, threatens to erupt. A 6.3 magnitude quake on May 27 killed more than 5,700 people south of Yogyakarta in Java, and a 7.7 quake and tsunami July 17 killed at least 658 people in the same island.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Mayon shows signs of a future major eruption

Legazpi City: Signs are increasing that Mount Mayon could erupt within days, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said on Thursday.

Phivolcs gave the assessment after noting an abrupt drop in sulfur-dioxide emission and a rise in the volume of lava flowing down the volcano’s slopes.

The same signs were observed just before Mayon erupted in 1928 and 1978, Phivolcs said.
The sulfur-dioxide emission went down to 4,550 tons Thursday from 9,275 tons Wednesday.
Lava snaking down the southeast slope was just 1.6 kilometers from the edge of the six-kilometer permanent danger zone.

“These parameters indicate that Mount Mayon’s probability to explode is higher,” Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, told The Manila Times.

Lava had moved 250 meters down the Mabinit channel, threatening the villages of Matanag, Mabinit, Bonga and other parts of Legazpi.

Laguerta said Mayon had belched more than 10 million cubic meters of lava since July 14.
Records of past eruptions show that in 1928 the volcano spewed at least 150 million cubic meters of lava and 20 million cubic meters in 1978.

“Mount Mayon may end up just emitting lava, but still the possibility to explode is higher. If the eruption is similar to the 1968 and 1984 explosions then it would be strong,” Laguerta said.
Phivolcs personnel were also watching for ground swelling on the mountain, a suggestion that magma or molten rock was rising to the surface. Phivolcs also recorded six volcanic earthquakes on Thursday, an indication that magma was making its way to the mountain’s top.

Cedric Daep, chief of the Albay Provincial Public Safety Management Office, warned residents on the southeast slope to look out for rockfalls, lava flows and pyroclastic flows.

The rains also present a danger, since they could turn the lava on the slopes into lahar, Phivolcs said.

Alert level 3 has been in force around the volcano. Once there is an eruption level 4 will be declared, calling for the mass evacuation of residents inside an expanded danger zone that will encompass most of Legazpi.

Phivolcs officials had predicted an eruption within two weeks.

Most of the villagers living on Mayon’s slopes have refused to evacuate, because they cannot leave their crops untended.

Many who evacuated were returning to their homes, Laguerta said.

Last Saturday, some 400 families in the villages of Santo Domingo town just outside the danger zone fled because of heavy ashfalls.

Residents staying at evacuation centers are allowed to return to their homes during the day, Daep said.

Gov. Fernando Gonzales of Albay reiterated his appeal for residents to leave the exclusion zone and not wait for alert level 4.

Gonzales will ask the police to set up a checkpoint in the area once level 4 is raised

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Thieves could put people's lives in danger!

Manila: Thieves have cut phone lines to steal about 30 metres of copper wire around lava-spilling Mayon Volcano.

The theft has crippled the communications of volcanologists who warned yesterday that an explosive eruption could still occur.

"The copper wire may be worth a few hundred pesos, but it may spell the difference between life and death for residents near Mayon," said Ernesto Corpus from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Other officials said the theft, discovered early yesterday, prevented them from transmitting observations and updates to Manila headquarters.

The 2,474 metre Mayon volcano came to life on July 14, spilling lava and red-hot boulders in a "mild and quiet" eruption. Volcanologists said yesterday the lava flow has now reached about 4km from the crater, triggering ground vibrations.

"The probability for an explosive eruption to occur is still fair," they said in a statement.

The government has declared a no-go area for a 6km zone around the crater, but several thousand still live and farm within the area and could not be forced out until there is a mandatory evacuation order.

Mayon, about 340km southeast of Manila, is one of the Philippines' 22 active volcanos. Its most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79 people.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Silent earthquakes may be a sign of volcano eruptions coming up!

Scientists are puzzled by a series of "silent" earthquakes deep underground that trigger no seismic signals, and by swarms of tremors they have detected in Northern California and other regions of the world where major quakes constantly threaten.

Those mysterious events, the scientists say, might help warn of truly dangerous quakes before they occur -- if only their meaning can be deciphered.

The so-called silent quakes occur as seismic faults slip slowly deep underground. Although instruments on the Earth's surface cannot pick up the slippages, they do cause the surface to move ever so slightly, and are often followed by swarms of underground tremors that are easily detectable.

The deep, slow-moving quakes and the tremors they cause have been called "the chatter of silent slip," and scientists from Stanford University are urging their colleagues around the world to monitor them in order to understand their links to damaging temblors that often follow.

The intriguing events have been detected beneath the Northern California coast and as far inland as Yreka (Siskiyou County); in the Puget Sound area around Seattle and western Canada; in Hawaii on the flanks of the Kilauea volcano; beneath the east coast of Japan; and along Mexico's west coast in the state of Guerrero.

If the tremors and silent quakes can be pinned down -- and it's a big if -- they might provide insights into how the Earth behaves just before certain types of huge, destructive quakes strike -- like the catastrophic undersea Sumatra event of 2004 that triggered the tsunami that killed hundreds of thousands of people around the Indian Ocean, said geophysicists Paul Segall and Gregory C. Beroza of Stanford.

Known as "megathrust" quakes, those types of temblors shove the seafloor abruptly upward, and their powerful force turns immense volumes of ocean water into a tsunami that can sweep across the sea for thousands of miles.

Segall and his colleagues reported recently in the journal Nature on four silent slip earthquakes they detected in Hawaii. Meanwhile, Beroza and David Shelly, together with their Japanese colleagues, reported in the same journal on a series of silent quakes and tremors that have been detected on the island of Shikoku in southeastern Japan, an area where devastating quakes have struck in the past.

All these seismic events are very much a mystery, Segall and Beroza agree. Geophysicists Garry Rogers and Herb Dragert of Central Washington University called them "the chatter of silent slip" after both the tremors and the silently slipping slow quakes were detected three years ago beneath British Columbia's Vancouver Island.

Underground tremors commonly occur inside volcanoes when magma churns upward just before eruptions, but the four sets of tremors Segall's team recorded on Kilauea were not connected with any volcanic activity, he said.

The silent-slip events are extremely slow-moving earthquakes that do not generate seismic waves and so cannot be detected by seismometers. A slipping fault -- sometimes as deep as 25 miles underground -- may take weeks or even months to distort the Earth's surface enough for Global Positioning System satellites to measure the motion, which is often less than an inch -- compared with the 1906 San Francisco quake, which displaced the surface as much as 21 feet at Tomales Bay.

The swarms of tiny quakes with magnitudes of less than 2 that sometimes accompany these events also might provide valuable clues to what's happening underground, the scientists say -- particularly in regions where one huge slab of the Earth's crust is diving beneath another in a process called subduction.

Quakes of moderate magnitude strike frequently in California around Petrolia (Humboldt County), where evidence of at least one silent quake was detected recently. All the land north of that town, including Eureka, lies within the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

Canadian quake experts maintain that a large-scale quake with a magnitude higher than 8 "is very possible" anywhere along the Cascadia Subduction Zone within the next 200 years.

At least one huge earthquake -- or maybe a series of quakes -- beneath Cascadia in 1700 sent a tsunami coursing across the Pacific to Japan, where it ravaged many villages. Japan has fallen victim to many such disasters; so have Alaska and the west coast of South America, and, of course, Indonesia.

"All these tremors and swarms of tiny quakes, as well as the silent earthquakes, appear to be adding stress to the entire fault zones where they occur," Segall said in an interview, "and when we learn to understand them better, they may well serve as signals warning that much bigger quakes are increasingly probable."

"It's almost unthinkable that these slow quakes and the tremors they produce wouldn't trigger much bigger quakes," Beroza said. "But we still have a lot to learn."

Similar nonvolcanic tremors have been detected some 50 miles beneath the San Andreas Fault south of Parkfield (Monterey County), but no silent quakes have been detected there -- only an increased frequency of small, shallow temblors easily detectable about 7 miles deep, according to Robert Nadeau of the UC Berkeley Seismological Laboratory.

Nadeau has been monitoring the deep tremors, and in September 2004, right after a long-awaited magnitude-6 quake struck on the San Andreas Fault, "those swarms just went crazy," he said in an interview Wednesday.

Right now, he said, he and his colleagues are awaiting installation of highly sensitive instruments called strain gauges that can detect the tiniest movement of the Earth's surface caused by the same mysterious silent quakes that are now known to occur so deeply in many of the world's most dangerous subduction zones.

Cascadia Subduction Zone “Silent quakes” and “nonvolcanic” tremors deep underground have been detected in the Pacific Northwest, Japan, Hawaii and other parts of the world. Many occur beneath regions like the Cascadia Subduction Zone which extends into Northern California. Last Wednesday, an offshore quake — not a “silent” one — struck 8 miles west of Petrolia in Humboldt County with a magnitude of 5. An offshore quake of magnitude 5 occurred Wednesday near Petrolia. In the Cascadia Subduction Zone, huge slabs of the Earth’s crust like the Juan De Fuca Plate dive beneath the North American Continental Plate.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Mayon's lava changes its course, threatening other towns

Manila: Lava flow from the restive Mayon Volcano in the southern Luzon Albay has widened its course to another channel, threatening to inundate more towns during an impending major eruption, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

Mayon's lava has advanced towards the Mabinit Channel, a northeast side of the volcano, Phivolcs said.

Lava deposits in the Mabinit Channel could slide down the mountain in the form of lahar that could threaten the towns of Malilipot and Tabaco, said Phivolcs.


Although smaller trickles of lava flow could still be seen along the Bonga Gully, a large deposit of lava flow on the endangered area could be the source of a major volcanic debris during a major eruption, Phivolcs explained.

Last week, lava flow from Bonga Gully, located on Mayon's southeast side, had landed about 1,000 metre from the volcano's top part.

The diversion of Mayon's lava flow means more areas will be endangered in the permanent six-kilometre danger zone, Phivolcs said, adding that local government officials are thinking of increasing the danger zone to eight kilometres from the top of the restive volcano.

Local government units included additional towns that were on the danger list. Residents in the said areas were told to pack up and leave for the evacuation centres in preparation for a major eruption.

Apart from lava flows, Mayon has emitted sulphur dioxide and has generated pyroclastic flows that produced ash columns for several days.

Seismic networks have detected tremors from the depths of the mountain.

The 2.4-km volcano has a perfect cone and its colourful lava flow has remained a tourist attraction where it can be seen from many provinces in the Bicol region. Mayon is part of the Bicol region's volcanic belt.

The Philippines is part of the Pacific's Ring of Fire where volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are common occurrences.

Ecuador volcano eruption cause 500 people to relocate permanently

About 500 people of the thousands evacuated by violent volcano eruptions last week will be permanently resettled elsewhere, officials said Tuesday.

A hundred families from the hamlet of Bilbao on the western slopes of the Tungurahua volcano will be relocated because they are unlikely to be able to return to their homes, said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, one of more than half a dozen villages evacuated.

The 16,575-foot volcano, located 85 miles south of the capital, Quito, began erupting on Friday, spewing lava, ash and toxic gas. No injuries were reported, but the ash caked houses as well as fields and pastures.

“We have to identify a place where the state can buy property to settle 100 families, some 500 people who were living on the volcano's slopes,” Salazar said in a radio interview.

About 3,700 people fled their homes during the eruptions, and thousands more suffered damage to their homes and crops.

On Tuesday, President Alfredo Palacio visited the area with six Cabinet ministers, joining three others already there assessing the damage.

Mayon could have explosive eruption warn authorities

Philippine authorities warned of a possible "explosive" eruption at Mount Mayon today after the volcano spewed more lava overnight. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) urged residents around the 2 462m active volcano to stay away from the 6km danger zone even though there was no imminent threat. Renato Solidum, the head of Phivolcs, said past eruptions at Mayon have showed that lava flow is often followed by an explosion.

He said despite monitoring up to 300 instances of activity from Mayon every day, the alert level would remain on three. Volcanologists have been monitoring the mountain since today, when the alert level was raised to three on a 1-5 scale after Mount Mayon began spewing ash and lava. Phivolcs officials said the latest volcanic unrest was caused by collapsing lava deposits, sending up a thick cloud of grey smoke.

Villagers are fearful"Yes we are fearful that Mayon will finally erupt. Lava will be everywhere. People will die," said Dioscoro Serrano, a local farmer. Many villagers are refusing to voluntarily evacuate from their homes and farms near the volatile volcano, saying they will wait until the alert level is raised before leaving.Provincial authorities have asked about 4 000 people from local communities to evacuate.

"My people are very anxious. The 1993 eruption killed many from my village. I hope there will be those who will volunteer to help us evacuate should Mayon volcano erupts," said Benjamin Esquivel, a village chief. Experts said Mayon, the most active of 22 volcanoes in the south-east Asian country, was showing signs of a major eruption within weeks.

People get ready to evacuate as Mayon rumbles!

VILLAGERS on the slopes of Mayon volcano prepared to evacuate yesterday as a series of minor eruptions and cloud of ash indicated it was building up for a major eruption soon, officials said. The volcano has been spewing lava since last week and all signs indicate it was preparing for a major explosive eruption within days or weeks, volcanologists said.

“There were secondary explosions. A collapsed portion of the advancing lava caused an ash cloud of several hundred meters,” scientist Ed Laguerta of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said. “The continuous lava flow indicates that the volcano is still undergoing high level of unrest. At this stage, explosive eruptions are still possible and the probability of life-threatening pyroclastic flows remains high,” Phivolcs said.

Alert level three remained hoisted over Mayon and nearby towns and villagers, meaning that residents should prepare for eventual evacuation. In the farming town of Matanag, which lies near the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone, residents have packed their things and were awaiting official word to evacuate.

“We only have one life to live each, it’s important to save that,” said coconut farmer Romeo Nantes, 55, and a father of three. Nantes, however, said that he would be tending his farm until a major eruption occurs. Under the shade of a tree, fellow farmer Balasta Balangitan, 37, led his family and friends in planning an escape route as they watched the smouldering lava flow snake down the slopes.

Balangitan said Matanag was among the towns devastated by Mayon’s eruption in 2001, when several dozen people were killed.

More evacuations due to eruption

MORE than 1000 people from three villages within the PNG province of West New Britain have now been evacuated after two volcanoes, dormant for more than 100 years, erupted.

Those evacuated are now said to be sheltering in care centres near the town of Bialla after Mount Karai and Mount Bamus began emitting vapour, ash and smoke in the past week, according to ABC Asia Pacific TV.

Provincial disaster officials and officers from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) are closely monitoring the situation, the National newspaper reported, with the possibility of more widespread evacuations if volcanic activity becomes more violent.

An official from the observatory told the paper earthquakes in the affected area, measuring between 1 and 5 on the Richter scale, were being felt every hour.

New seismographic equipment was also said to have been set up near Mount Bamus to assist monitoring efforts.

According to the National, this is the first recorded eruption for Mount Karai while it is the first time in 120 years for Mount Bamus.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Facts on ''Ring of Fire"!

Clouds of ash and smoke sent panic through villagers living around Mount Mayon, a volcano in the central Philippines, while on the other side of the Pacific's "Ring of Fire", Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spewed gas and ash for the fourth day.

Here are some key facts about the Ring of Fire:


-- The Ring of Fire is a band of volcanoes and fault lines circling the edges of the Pacific Ocean.

-- It is horseshoe-shaped, and 40,000 km (25,000 miles) long.

-- It runs from Chile, northwards along the South American coast through Central America, Mexico, the west coast of the U.S. and the southern part of Alaska, through the Aleutian Islands to Japan, the Philippines and Indonesia before curving back to New Guinea, the southwest Pacific islands and New Zealand.

-- Its seismic activity results from collisions between tectonic plates.


-- Of the world's 1,500 active volcanos, almost 90 percent are in the Ring of Fire.

-- Ninety percent of the world's earthquakes and 81 percent of the world's largest earthquakes occur within it.


-- May 27, 2006, INDONESIA: A 6.3 magnitude earthquake hits Yogyakarta in Java, killing at least 5,700 people.

-- June 10, PHILIPPINES: Bulusan volcano explodes, sending ash and steam 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) into the air and showering surrounding villages.

-- June 12, JAPAN: Vulcanologists warn of more eruptions at Mount Sakurajima, on Kyushu island southwest of Tokyo, after it spews volcanic gases.

-- July 17, INDONESIA: Over 550 people are killed in Java, after an undersea earthquake creates a tsunami.

-- July 17, ECUADOR: Tungurahua volcano, about 80 miles (130 km) south of Quito, rains molten rock and covers villages in ash, months after it became active in May.

-- July 18, PHILIPPINES: Authorities order 4,000 people to evacuate after Mount Mayon begins erupting on July 14.

-- July 19, INDONESIA: Office workers in the capital Jakarta flee after a 6.0 magnitude tremor causes tall buildings to sway.


-- August 26/27, 1883: Krakatoa, an island volcano in the Indian Ocean erupts. It kills nearly 40,000 people as tsunami waves crash into Java and Sumatra and are felt as far away as England.

-- May 18, 1980: Mount St. Helens in southwest Washington state erupts, killing 57. The eruption was triggered by a 5.1 magnitude earthquake.

-- June 9, 1991: Mount Pinatubo, 80 km (50 miles) north of Manila, erupts. It kills over 700 and destroys 200,000 buildings in one of the 20th century's 3 largest eruptions.

Volcanoes, a hot topic right now!

HUNDREDS of people were evacuated from villages in the Bialla area of West New Britain province after two volcanoes, which have been quiet for a long time, erupted.Eruption was observed on Mt Ruckenburg, or the Karai volcano, on July 10, and two days later on Mt Bamus, and the threat of more eruptions prompted authorities to evacuate the villagers to safer areas.

Reports said this was the first recorded eruption of Mt Ruckenburg while, for Bamus, it is the first in 120 years.Bamus is located southwest of Mt Ulawun, another volcano in the area which erupted recently. Observers reported weak to moderate white vapour emitting from Mt Ruckenburg, but no observed ash fall, while there were white-grey emissions recorded at Bamus.Villagers in the area also reported hearing booming noises coming from the volcanoes.

Provincial disaster officials and officers from the Rabaul Volcano Observatory (RVO) are closely monitoring tectonic activities in the area after strong tremors were recorded last weekend.According to a RVO officer, Bialla and Ulamona villagers living near Mt Ruckenberg and Mt Bamus had moved to temporary care centres.“Provincial disaster officials had evacuated more than 1,000 people from three villages in the areas under close scrutiny for possible volcanic activities as a precautionary measure,” the officer said.

He said the latest reports of volcano tectonic activities recorded in the area yesterday afternoon measured between 1 and 5 on the richter scale.“We have set up a new seismographic machine close to Mt Bamus, which is located between Bialla and Ulamona, and it is still recording so we should get a final report by tomorrow morning (today),” he told The National.He said RVO acting assistant director Herman Paita and provincial disaster officials were in the area monitoring the situation.

Radio New Zealand International also reported strong tremors that scientists warn could mean an eruption was near.It said high levels of tremors were recorded but there were no thermal activity from the volcano. The RVO officer said earthquakes in the affected area were being felt almost every hour. The Radio New Zealand report said the Australian government, through its aid agency AusAID, had responded to a PNG Government request for additional monitoring equipment.

Two technical experts from Geosciences Australia were also flown to West New Britain to help watch the situation.Attempts to talk to the director of National Disaster and Emergency Services were unsuccessful as he was attending emergency meetings yesterday.An official statement on the situation is expected today.

Mount Fuji is likely to erupt soon!

At a farmer's cooperative just south of Japan's Mount Fuji volcano, 66-year-old Katsuoku Issei calmly unloads crates of giant radishes and dried taro plant stems from his van.

"We'd sure be in trouble if the mountain erupts," he said, referring to Fuji. "But most people around here don't think it will happen.

"Besides," he added with a gold-toothed grin, "if it does, maybe it will explode off the other side, and here in Fujinomiya, we'll be fine."

Speculation of an eruption first spread in 2000 and 2001, when scientists were shocked to detect swarms of low-frequency earthquakes beneath Mount Fuji.

The announcement sent Japanese media into a frenzy and forced government bureaucrats to dust off disaster management plans.

The episode also prompted the formation of a national committee to assess the current danger of the volcano and create a detailed hazard map of the potentially affected areas, including the town of Fujinomiya.

Explosive Buildup

Shigeo Aramaki, one of Japan's leading volcano experts, led the committee's hazard map project. The last Fuji eruption, he says, was in 1707.

"But in the last 2,200 years, Fuji has erupted at least 75 times, judging from geological and historical records," he said. "That means an average interval of 30 years between eruptions."
Long intervals of quiet may be well within the natural variance of such a cycle.

Still, "in the last 300 years there has been no eruption. With the past level of activity in mind, you cannot deny that 300 years of repose is pretty long—too long."

Mount Fuji looms just 70 miles (112 kilometers) from Tokyo, a metropolitan region home to nearly 30 million people. Many millions more live much closer.

Three years ago a government report estimated that ash, lava, and smoke resulting from a large Fuji eruption could cause the equivalent of 21 billion U.S. dollars in damages.

It's therefore no wonder that Fuji is arguably the world's most closely watched volcano.
The mountain is wired to the hilt with dense global positioning system arrays and seismometers. It is scrutinized with state-of-the-art laser mapping technology and is bombarded with constant investigations.

Although the flurry of low-frequency earthquakes has since calmed down, Fuji is hardly safer now than it was a few years ago, says Chris Newhall of the U.S. Geological Survey Volcano Disaster Assistance Program.

Deep, long-period earthquakes "are thought to represent a supply of basaltic magma from depth into the roots of the volcanic system," Newhall said.

In other words, the quakes are signs that magma is building up within the mountain's bowels.
"A volcano can absorb quite a few of these [buildups] without erupting. But each one adds a little more heat and gas," he said.

"It's a bit like torquing a ratcheted spring: A little bit now, a little bit later, and eventually it's cocked" and ready to blow.

Precisely when Fuji will be fully cocked, nobody knows.

Fake Quakes

Recently scientists detonated a series of explosions around Mount Fuji using 1,102-pound (500-kilogram) charges buried 263 feet (80 meters) into the ground.

Seismic waves created by these simulated earthquakes bounced back to some 400 different monitoring stations. The results will help researchers glean information about the mountain's subsurface structures.

Figuring out the terrain and the amount of magma below can increase the odds of successfully predicting when the volcano will erupt.

"Analyzing the seismic wave field is currently our best way of gauging what's down there," said Hiromu Okada of Hokkaido University in Sapporo.

In 2000 Okada helped predict the eruption of another Japanese volcano, Mount Usu on the northern island of Hokkaido.

Okada is quick to clarify that Fuji has not to date offered any evidence of imminent danger and that hazardous, massive-output eruptions like that of Mount St. Helens in 1980 remain a statistically rare occurrence on Earth.

What's more, the 30-year interval idea may be obsolete, he says.

The volcano's 1707 eruption was so large and destructive, it may have altered Fuji's underground structure, throwing the mountain off what was once a more regular cycle of eruption.

On the other hand, the change in interior structure could mean that Fuji is loading up with a different, more explosive type of magma than in previous eruptions.

Quiet Period

Many locals, including the farmer Issei, don't believe the volcano will erupt, but they concede that if or when a major earthquake hits, Fuji could awaken.

And like residents of San Francisco, California, people in Japan have been preparing for their next Big One, known as the great Tokai earthquake, for the past 25 years.

The Tokai segment is an especially active part of a subduction zone—where one tectonic plate is slipping underneath another—that sits just southwest of Tokyo.

Tokai last produced a major quake in 1854, and scientists believe that it is long overdue for another one.

"The expected Tokai or Nankai earthquake has a strong effect on the whole tectonic stress system for nearly all of the Japanese archipelago," Okada said.

"If some magmatic system is ready or nearly due to erupt, an earthquake could be an effective trigger."

In fact, that's probably what happened in 1707, when the Tokai area experienced a huge earthquake just two months before Fuji blew.

While scientists get increasingly nervous about the meaning of 300 years of quiet, it's that same quiet that makes residents, like local farmer Issei, complacent.

"People forget," Aramaki, the volcano expert, said. "Look what happened in 2000 with the news of seismic activity. Everyone was surprised because they thought Fuji was dormant."

Etna is erupting!

Etna Volcano is erupting but it does not pose a threat for nearby communities, according to the Italian Geophysics and Volcanology Institute on Monday.

Seismologists predicted the eruption of the volcano in April. It started last Friday.

The Etna´s last eruption occurred in January 2005. It first erupted in the 15th century and 1669, when it killed 20,000 people. Other eruptions were registered in 1787 and 1928.

Mayon volcano, likely to go with a bang

Red-hot lava poured down the slopes of Mayon volcano, accompanied by more tremors, for the fourth straight day on Monday, indicating an explosive eruption may occur soon, scientists said.The government, meanwhile, assured residents that evacuation plans were in place in case of a major eruption, although authorities for time being ruled out raising the alert level from two notches below the highest.

The silent, steady flow of lava and debris on the 2,474-meter (8,118-foot) mountain, famous for its near-perfect cone, has reached 800 meters (2,624 feet) down the summit since Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said.Seismic activityGleaming in the dark and steaming during the day, the advancing lava and cascading rocks were accompanied by 314 tremors in the past 24 hours, significantly higher than the 111 tremors the previous day, the institute said.

"The increased seismic activity, relatively fast lava extrusion rate and high sulfur dioxide emission rate indicate heightened unrest of the volcano, which could lead to explosive eruption," it said.Officials had earlier estimated a hazardous eruption could occur within weeks.Authorities have extended a six-kilometer (3.7-mile) danger zone around the peak of the volcano to seven kilometers (four miles) on the southeastern slope, where most of the lava and other debris have been rolling down.

On the streets of Legazpi city, the capital of Albay province near the volcano, about 340 kilometers (210 miles) southeast of Manila, it was business as usual as people went about their lives. In the evenings, residents and tourists gathered at a hillside to gaze at the flowing lava.Disaster preparednessPresidential spokesperson Ignacio Bunye said on Monday the National Disaster Coordinating Council and local authorities "are on top of all disaster preparedness measures to ensure the safety of the residents who may be directly affected by the volcanic activity."

Mayon's most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79.The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.In 1991, Mount Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

Volcano eruptions in Ecuador cause evacuation

Tungurahua has been spitting out ash and lava for three days, and emitting loud explosions. It returned to life in 1999, after a century of inactivity.

So far there have been no injuries, but some villagers are reluctant to leave their homes and livestock.

President Alfredo Palacio has announced $4.9m in aid, after touring the affected area at the weekend.

Nearby towns have been covered in volcanic ash, as the wind carried the dust up to 120km (75 miles) from Tungurahua.

There have been 24 explosive cycles since Saturday, according to an official at the country's Geophysical Institute.

Some locals have refused to move away from the area.

"They said to evacuate but we're not going to leave because we're not going to throw away the animals, the houses," said Manuel Rosero, wearing a handkerchief over his face against the ash in the air.

Tungurahua is 5,029 metres (16,500ft) high, and is located 135km (85 miles) south of the capital, Quito.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Authorities get ready for major eruption and evacuation

Malacañang mobilized yesterday disaster-related agencies and local governments to ensure a zero-casualty rate in case of a major eruption of Mt. Mayon in Albay.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye said the National Disaster Coordinating Council (NDCC) and local government units (LGUs) have been directed to be "on top of all disaster preparedness measures to ensure the safety of the residents who may be directly affected by the volcanic activity."

Bunye also appealed to the people to stay away from the six-kilometer-radius danger zone around the volcano amid signs of restiveness since Friday.

"We appeal to residents and travelers to adhere to the off-limit zones and to abide by the contingency measures being implemented by the authorities. We have to ensure that affected residents are in secure area until our experts declare it safe to go back," he said in a statement.
Mayon Volcano, famous for its near-perfect cone shape, has been unleashing lava and emitting sulfur dioxide from its crater since last Friday, prompting officials to raise the level in the five-step alert system to Alert Level 3.

Alert Level 3 meant there is "relatively high unrest" in the volcano with volcanic quakes and tremors expected to become frequent ahead of an eruption.

"Preparedness and coordination between the concerned government agencies, the local government units, as well as the communities in the area would be the key in maintaining a zero-casualty rate in the event that a major eruption occurs," Bunye said.

Mayon Volcano, one of the country’s 22 active volcanos, last had a major eruption in 2001, forcing the evacuation of around 50,000 people. More than 1,000 people were killed during Mayon’s most violent eruption in 1814.

Flow of lava, rock fragments intensifies, scientists say

The flow of lava and rock fragments from Mayon volcano has picked up, scientists said yesterday, increasing the possibility of a violent eruption soon.

The 2,474-meter mountain, famous for its nearperfect cone, started spilling lava and debris on Friday in what some volcanologists said was the beginning of a silent eruption.

But volcanologist Eduardo Laguerta said Mayon’s lava extrusion rate increased Saturday, and that more tremors associated with the falling rock fragments have been recorded, suggesting old magma from the depth of the volcano is being pushed to the surface.

"With this development, we are now closely watching Mayon volcano,’’ Laguerta said yesterday. "These developments in the behavior right now would mean that the possibility is that the eruption would be coming nearer.’’

He said volcanologists were waiting for other signs, like lava shooting in the air and more tremors. The increase in seismic activity itself did not warrant raising the alert level from two notches below the highest.

Officials have estimated a hazardous eruption could happen within weeks.

Authorities extended a six-kilometer danger zone around the peak of the volcano to seven kilometers on the southeastern slope, where most of the lava and other debris has been rolling down.

On the streets of Legazpi City, the capital of Albay province near the volcano, residents watched boulders and other debris cascading from the crater, raising brownish-gray clouds of dust.
Mayon’s most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried a town in mud. A 1993 eruption killed 79.

An eruption warning system is already in place for the quick evacuation of nearby communities, and radio stations have been told to broadcast emergency calls, said Jukes Nunez, an operations officer with the provincial disaster officer.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire,’’ where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common.

In 1991, Mount Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in one of the world’s biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) observed yesterday more than 100 significant tremor episodes, increased lava flow and sulfur dioxide emission in Albay’s Mayon volcano as it continued its restive behavior.

In a bulletin issued by Phivolcs yesterday, the institute said it recorded 111 "significant tremor episodes related with large rock masses that have detached from the lava flow."

Sulfur dioxide emission significantly increased from 2,211 tons per day (t/d) from its previous reading of 1,251 t/d, Phivolcs said, adding that the increase in lava extrusion "has resulted in a lava flow," which formed an "elongated mass from the summit to about 800 meters downslope."
"Fragments detaching from the sides and toes of this lava flow are causing a continuous stream of incandescent rockfalls, which come to rest on the upper and middle slopes, about three kilometers from the summit," the institute said.

"In general, eruptive activity was dominated by lava extrusion," it said.

According to the institute, a possible scenario is the "shift from lava extrusion to explosive eruption, which could generate pyroclastic flows."

Pyroclastic flow is a volcanic hazard described as a "turbulent mass of ejected fragmented volcanic materials such as ash and rocks, mixed with hot gases that flow downslope at very high speed (greater that 60 kilometers per hour (kph)."

Phivolcs, meanwhile, said Mayon’s six-kilometer Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) is still off-limits to the public due to major hazards of rockfalls, lava flow and small rock avalanches.

"Residents just beyond the PDZ, especially in the southeast portion and facing the Bonga Gully, should be vigilant against explosive eruption and be prepared for evacuation," Phivolcs said.
Late Friday night (July 14), Phivolcs raised Mayon’s alert level from 1, classified as exhibiting a period of "low level unrest," to 3, classified as "relatively high unrest," after the volcano showed signs of restiveness through increased steaming activity, noticeable crater glow and lava flow.

Last Saturday (June 15), volcanologists noticed that lava fragments had been detached from a lava pile on the volcano’s summit crater as Mayon exhibited 18 high frequency and four low frequency short duration harmonic tremors as well as a minor explosion at 2:47 p.m.

Based on research, harmonic tremors are said to "often precede or accompany volcanic eruptions."

Phivolcs director Dr. Renato Solidum earlier said that the Vulcanian eruption -- a combination of rocks, ashes and gas which go down the slopes at a speed of 60 kph -- is typical of the Mayon volcano as shown during previous eruptions, particularly in the second phase of 1984, 2000 and 2001.

Other types of Mayon’s volcanic eruption included the Plinian eruption -- which occurred in 1814, described as an eruption of great violence characterized by voluminous explosions and ejections of pumice and ashflows with tall eruption columns -- and the Strombolian eruption, or the "fountaining of lava;" in 1993 and 2001.

Towering at 2.46 kms, Mayon volcano was placed on alert level 2 in October 2003. But this was downgraded to alert level 1 in April of this year before its alert level was raised to 3 last Friday.
It had 47 recorded eruptions, with its last major eruption recorded in 2001. Its last quiet eruption prior to this year’s volcanic activity was from September to October in 2005, wherein lava noticeably came out of the volcano and wherein the lava dome grew very slowly.

"That’s already an eruption, an example of a quiet type of eruption," Solidum earlier said.
Other Philippine volcanoes on heightened alert include the Taal volcano, which has been on alert level 1 since November of last year and which exhibited one high frequency volcanic earthquake during yesterday’s 24-hour observation period; Kanlaon volcano, which has been on alert level 1 since June 12; and the Bulusan volcano, which has been on alert level 2 since June 7 after a series of phreatic explosions. It had exhibited two volcanic earthquakes during Phivolcs’s 24-hour observation period.

Scientists at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) here are predicting a big eruption of Mayon volcano soon based from its past history.

The situation has prompted disaster authorities here to put in place all the necessary precaution in case the volcano erupts.

Volcanologists here said that if the volcano exhibits lava fountain, it is the signal that evacuation should begin even if the alert level is not yet raised to alert level 4.

Ed Laguerta, resident volcanologist at the Ligñon Hill monitoring station here, said Mayon’s current abnormal activities are escalating much faster than during the episode in 2000 when the volcano last erupted.

He said in 1999, Mayon first recorded four phreatic or ash explosions in June 22, September 22, and August 3 before it started to display other abnormal precursors such as increased sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions and more frequent low and high frequency volcanic quakes in late January of 2000.

In May of the same year, lava flow followed, accompanied by big explosions and pyroclastic flows.
Laguerta noted that this time Mayon’s abonormal parameters were cut shorter, saying it did not pass the alert level 2 stage, and went directly to lava flow.

He said they noticed that the increase in Mayon’s abnormal activities was faster than that of the 2000 eruption precursors.

He added that it the present trend is sustained, Mayon is likely to erupt much earlier this year than in 2000. Mayon’s pre-eruption activities took place for almost a year before it erupted in 2000.
Laguerta said he is not discounting the possibility that Mayon may take it easy for several more days or weeks before erupting, as it had already recorded such eruption pattern in the past.
He said after ejecting lava fragments in the past two days, Mayon ejected new lava the other night that reached some 800 meters down the Bonga channel facing this city, Sto. Domingo and Danage towns.

Meanwhile, Phivolcs monitoring detected some 121 significant tramors up to 1 p.m. yesterday, while its SO2 emission was measured at 2,211 tons, which was double its earlier volume of 1,251 tons last Friday. A small explosion that was not physically observed but merely detected by its instruments took place at 2:47 p.m. the other day.

The Phivolcs bulletin said the extrusion of a lava flow clearly indicated that the tempo of unrest at Mayon had increased.

One likely scenario is a shift from lava extrusion to explosive eruption which would generate pyroclastic flows. At this stage, except for ashfalls, the major hazards of rockfalls, lava flow and small rock avalanches all occur within the six-kilometer radius or the permanent danger zone.
Laguerta said a team sent yesterday to inspect the foot of Mayon heard the noise created by falling rocks and other volcanic debris.

Cedric Daep, on the other hand, personally visited the barangays nearest to the volcano and met yesterday with local officials of the towns with residents that will be evacuated once alert level 4 is raised.

Daep said the move is meant to check whether their prepared evacuation plan is well placed for any eventuality.

Gov. Fernando Gonzalez said he has already ordered the mobilization of all the resources and manpower needed in case of a full-blown eruption to ensure a "zero casualty" contingency plan.

Ecuador volcano erupts, causing evacuation

At least 3,700 villagers have evacuated their homes in Ecuador, following heavy eruptions from the Tunguarahua volcano.

Authorities said on Saturday the volcano had drastically changed its behaviour, expelling toxic gasses and at least four lava flows for the first time since activity resumed seven years ago.
Some people refused to leave, saying they would prefer to die there, whilst others took shelter in schools and churches in the nearby village of El Pingue.

"We've tried to explain to the people that they need to leave because it's dangerous, but unfortunately there are people that don't want to leave and say they prefer to die here,'' said Lt. Carlos Alban of the police Rescue and Intervention Group. "They're afraid their things will be stolen.''

Lava flows out of Mayon's crater

The Philippines decided on Friday to raise the alert level at the country's most active volcano and warned residents to stay away from the mountain after a lava spill was observed at its crater.

Mayon volcano in the central Philippines spewed ash on Thursday but lava was seen spilling from its crater late on Friday, prompting authorities to raise the alert level to 3 from 1 ordered in 2003.
"We're preparing to raise the alert level to 3," said Renato Solidum, director of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology. "At 6 p.m. (1000 GMT), our vulcanologists on the ground have observed lava trickles from its craters."

Solidum warned residents in Albay province not to venture within a 6-km zone of the 2,462-metre-high volcano because of fears of sudden hazardous eruptions.

At level 3 an explosion is considered possible, at level 4 it is likely and at level 5, the highest alert, a hazardous eruption has occurred.

"Hazardous eruption is possible," Solidum told reporters after lava was observed in the Mayon crater this week.

Vulcanologists have been watching Bulusan volcano in nearby Sorsogon province after it spewed ash and vented steam in March. Last month, authorities raised the alert level there to 2.

Mayon is the most active volcano in the country, having erupted around 50 times over the past four centuries. The most destructive eruption came in February 1841 when lava flows buried a town and killed 1,200 people.

The last time Mayon erupted was in 2000-2001.

Mayon is active again!

The Mayon volcano erupted Friday, a day after ejecting ash amid swarms of earthquakes, the Philippines' chief volcanologist said.

"It is a quiet eruption as of now," said Renato Solidum, chief of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, who ordered the alert level raised after observers saw "lava trickles" flowing down the slopes of the 8,118-foot volcano.

"A hazardous eruption is possible. We don't know when, maybe within weeks," Solidum said.
He said scientists had expected lava flows after ash shot out of the volcano Thursday and earthquakes were recorded for two days.

Solidum said observers had not been able to see the crater as the top of the mountain had been obscured by clouds.

The government maintains a 3 3/4-mile "permanent danger zone" around the volcano's crater, but many residents still live or farm on its slopes. There was no immediate word on evacuations.
Cedric Daep, disaster action officer for Albay province, where Mayon is located, said authorities will strictly bar mountain climbers, farmers and other visitors from venturing into the danger zone.
A major tourist attraction for its near perfect cone, the volcano is about 210 miles southeast of Manila.

Mayon, one of the country's 22 active volcanos, last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing the evacuation of about 50,000 people. It has erupted about 50 times since 1616.
Its most violent eruption, in 1814, killed more than 1,200 people and buried an entire town in mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.

The Philippines is in the Pacific "Ring of Fire," where volcanic activity and earthquakes are common. Bulusan volcano, about 31 miles south of Mayon, has ejected ash in about five minor eruptions since March.

In June 1991, Mount Pinatubo exploded in the northern Philippines in one of the world's biggest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century, killing about 800 people.

Climbers now allowed on Mt. St.Helens

For the climbing public, the curtain up goes next week on the third act of America's most fascinatingly dysfunctional mountain.

Forest Service ranger Nick Racine leads reporters and photographers on a hike Thursday to the rim of Mount St. Helens. The climb has been closed to the public since 2004 because of volcanic activity.

It's anyone's guess how many more acts are to follow in the years to come, but the highlight of Mount St. Helens' latest configuration since its devastating eruption of May 18, 1980, will be the unveiling of a close-up view of its new, still-growing volcanic dome.

The dome is creeping slowly and dramatically upward and now is less than 700 feet below the 8,363-foot summit, which opens to climbing next Friday for the first time since volcanic activity prompted closure of the mountain in September 2004.

The 1,100-foot-high mass of rock isn't rising quietly from the mountain's hot depths.

During a preview climb the U.S. Forest Service arranged for the region's news media Thursday, the lava dome put on a noisy, spectacular show, sending automobile-sized boulders roaring down its unstable slopes as gases rose from fumaroles on the crater floor, mixing with wind-blown ash and clouds.

The living, growing mountain will present climbers with a "total sensory experience" -- breathtaking views, thunderous rockfall, birds singing, the occasional ash cloud and even whiffs of sulfur gas -- said Peter Frenzen, chief scientist of the Mount St. Helens Volcanic National Monument.

Climbers now must apply for permits on the Web from the Mount St. Helens Institute , a new, non-profit organization working with the Forest Service to provide educational programs and research support on the volcano.

The mountain's Act 1, at least of the modern era, began with a 57-year round of volcanic activity in the early 19th century that gave it its Fuji-like, nearly symmetrical, pre-1980 shape, with a summit crater reaching 9,677 feet. It ended spectacularly with the earthquake, landslide and massive eruption 26 years ago that killed 57 people and reshaped the landscape of hundreds of square miles.

For sightseeing climbers, that brought down the curtain, keeping St. Helens off limits until volcanic activity subsided enough to permit its reopening in January 1987. The centerpiece of this episode, Act 2, was a magma dome growing in the north-facing crater.

That massive lump, however, was eventually pushed aside by today's much larger, higher dome, never before seen at its current size by climbers to the wind-swept crater rim, often dusted by fine, silica ash with "the consistency of broken glass," Frenzen said. The Forest Service recommends that climbers, to protect their mouths and eyes, bring along dust masks and safety goggles or climbing glasses with side shields.

The magma is building the dome upward 4 to 5 feet per day, "coming out like a piston," said U.S. Geological Survey scientist Tom Pierson, and it is building the towering dome -- the crater's seventh since 1980, and its largest -- at the rate of a cubic yard per second. If that rate of dome building continues, Pierson said, in a century the mountain will have rebuilt itself to where it was before 1980.

The mountain is reopening too late for what many regard as the ideal climbing season, when snow still covers its southern slopes and the climb is less grueling than is the current trip up boulder-strewn Monitor Ridge.

Either way, though, while not a technical climb, "it is a long, arduous walk," Frenzen noted. The climb gains 4,565 feet in five miles.

The upside of the late opening of Act 3, though, is that wildflowers are just now coming into full bloom -- entire fields of cream-colored, globe-shaped bear grass near timberline, and scarlet heather, blue lupine and a palette of other floral colors higher up.

At the climbing route's 7,000-foot level, a desolate landscape of rock and pumice, a solitary speck of green -- a still-tiny elderberry bush -- testifies to nature's regenerative abilities. Scientists speculate wind or a bird dropped the seed that gave it life.

The Mount St. Helens Institute is stepping in as a private non-profit on a number of fronts to compensate for Forest Service budget and staffing cutbacks.

"The institute is stepping in to fill that gap," Pierson said. "We want to help people connect with the volcano," said Greg de Nevers, scientific coordinator for the Mount St. Helens Institute.

Beyond the stunning sight of watching an active, erupting volcano restore itself, de Nevers said, there is the opportunity to learn how nature itself recovers -- how plants find root on a moonscape and birds flourish in what appears to the naked eye as a devastated wasteland.

"It's an amazing place, and we want people to have the full experience," he said.

Looking down into the crater from the rim Thursday, the climbers at the top could barely make out two USGS scientists far below next to the bulging dome. Pierson radioed down and learned his colleagues were sampling rock created from one of last year's lava flows.

"We still need to better understand these eruptions," Pierson said.

This volcano, which first surprised scientists when it exploded in 1980 on a scale nobody had ever thought possible, continues to surprise.

For one thing, experts can't figure out what is pushing up this dome. Typically, such eruptions are accompanied by lots of emissions as magmatic gas forces lava up.

"But there's very little gas with St. Helens' current eruption," Pierson said. "The question is: What's pushing the lava out?"

Pierson and his colleagues at the Geological Survey's Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., had the opportunity Wednesday to ask newly appointed Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne for more money to expand volcano research.

De Nevers said if their organization could assist the public in gaining a better appreciation of just how unusual St. Helens is, perhaps support for research will grow.


Mount St. Helens, closed to climbers since the volcano grew active in September 2004, will be opened to climbers again July 21. For the latest information, go to:
Climbing permits are required year-round to climb above 4,800 feet elevation.

A climbing permit fee of $15 plus a service charge of $7 per person is charged for a one-day climbing permit from April 1 through Oct. 31. They will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. From May 15 to Oct. 31, climbing is limited to 100 climbers a day, with a maximum party size of 12. From Nov. 1 to March 31, there is no fee.

Over 8,000 people evacuate following Galeras' eruption

After heavy cycles of activity the Galeras Volcano has exploded and prompted the national government to evacuate around 10,000 people living in the highest risk area. On July 12, two eruptions at 10:58h and 14:30h (local time) produced a big column of gas, ashes and rocks, reaching an altitude of 8 kilometers and seen by populations around the City of Pasto, southern Colombia.

The alert level 1 has been issued. Officially, Galeras volcano is in imminent or on going eruption and Colombian Red Cross has activated its contingency plan as well as its crisis centres at Bogotá and Nariño Departments. First measures for responding to the emergency include the preventive enlistment of five injury stabilization and classification modules and the deployment of equipment specialized in search and rescue, telecommunications and medical relief.

According to the contingency plan, one hundred of Colombian Red Cross’ volunteers trained in water and sanitation, basic healthcare, first aid and needs and damage assessment have been put on alert and are ready to be deployed to the city of Pasto. There, Colombian Red Cross is managing six shelters where 2,400 families have received health cares, training on risk reduction and first aid, as well as psychological support.

Walter Cotte, National Relief Director at Colombian Red Cross, explained that while the alert 1 remains in place, the National Society will focus its efforts on response and evacuation activities. “Our message is clear: zero people living at the risk area. The goal is to reach at least 70% occupation in the shelters we are managing. It is a big challenge, as some people do not believe the eruption will happen”, said Cotte.

Latest reports provided by Colombian Red Cross show the average temporary shelter occupation is around 30% of the total capacity. If needed, the 12 shelters could received from 8, 000 to 10, 000 people and guarantee food and relief supplies to all of them.

The Ecuadorian Red Cross has stated that their response units are ready to be mobilized to Colombia within 24 hours. Both, Colombian and Ecuadorian National Societies have designed a common plan for responding to an emergency originated by Galeras Volcano.

If requested, Ecuadorian Red Cross will support by sending medical and rescue equipment along with volunteers trained as national intervention teams. The Volcano is near to the Ecuador cities of Quito and Tulcán so it would be possible to use Ecuadorian airports to transport humanitarian aid from Ecuador to Pasto.

International Federations’ Pan American Disaster Response Unit has also confirmed its teams are ready to help Colombian Red Cross if needed.

Ingeominas has not discarded the possibility of additional eruptions in the next hours. “Yesterday explosions could be the breathing Galeras was missing, that means, the beginning of a new rest period” explained Walter Cotte. “But also, they could be the start of an aggressive cycle of activity that can include bigger and heavier eruptions.”

Until the Ingeominas issues a clearer forecast, the Colombian Red Cross will continue to support the evacuation process and to people living in temporary refuges.

"Colombian Red Cross volunteers teach first aid techniques to children living at temporary shelters. In addition to providing education on evacuation procedures and provision of basic health care ‘’

As part of the psychological support given by Colombian Red Cross to families living at temporary shelters, children have drawn and designed full colour landscapes and stories.

For some families the stay in the temporary shelters could last up to three months.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Galeras volcano erupts in Columbia

The Galeras volcano in southwest Colombia shot rocks, gas and ash in an eruption that prompted the government to evacuate about 10,000 nearby residents. There are thick clouds of ash hanging over the town of Pasto in Narino province. No injuries were immediately reported. Colombia's disaster response agency says this could be the beginning of a series of eruptions. A 1993 Galeras eruption killed at least 10 people. It is one of the 15 volcanoes most closely monitored in the world due to the threat it poses to local communities.

Mount Baker displays volcanic activity

A team from Western’s geology department joined researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey and Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, to conduct three types of observations at Mount Baker.

The team used Global Positioning System receivers, gravitational measurements and gas samples, said Juliet Crider, Western geology professor and leader of the project.

“We’re taking the pulse of the volcano,” Crider said. “Many studies on other volcanoes have addressed one aspect at a time — GPS, gravity or gas — but few projects have analyzed all these different types of data together.”

Measuring these data together allows researchers to more comprehensively assess what process or processes occurred at the volcano during the last 30 years, and what volcanic activity to expect in the future,said Kristin Hill, a third-year graduate student of geology at Western.

This three-pronged assessment of Mount Baker will help improve volcanic hazard monitoring in the region, said Brendan Hodge, first-year geography graduate students at Western.

“We hope to improve the understanding of volcanic systems in the Cascades and more specifically, Mount Baker,” Hodge said.

In 1975, steam and ash eruptions caused the U.S. Forest Service to close Baker Lake out of concern that heat generated by the volcanic activity could melt the snow and ice, causing mud slides.

The volcanic activity has subsided, but scientists never determined what caused the eruptions, Hodge said.

“Activity at Baker increased suddenly in 1975,” Hill said. “Since then, the emissions of carbon dioxide have remained high, indicating that something has been going on there over the past 30 years. We are trying to figure out what that something is.”

Mount Baker’s history is almost unknown, making it difficult to forecast the volcano’s future, said Dave Tucker, a researcher affiliated with Western’s geology department.

“In order to plan for future eruptions, we must study past eruptions,” Tucker said. “In geology we say the past is the key to the present.”

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Volcano in Western Mexico spits up ashes

Western Mexico's Volcano of Fire sent a towering column of ash and gas more than a mile into the air Thursday, authorities said. Winds blew a 7,150-foot column of ash toward the west. No communities were affected, said authorities in Jalisco state. The 2 1/2-mile-high volcano sent up twin eruptions in January, triggering several small landslides. The Volcano of Fire, on the border of Jalisco and Colima states, 420 miles west of Mexico City, has erupted repeatedly in recent years.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?