Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Java now faces mud volcano
Residents carry their belongings through mud as they evacuate their homes in east Java.TRISNADI/AP/EMPICSFor 3 months a sea of hot mud has been gushing from the ground in Sidoarjo, East Java, 35 kilometres south of Indonesia's second largest city, Surabaya. The steaming mud pool is growing at an estimated 50,000 cubic metres a day, accompanied by hydrogen sulphide gas, and now reportedly covers more than 25 square kilometres.
The flow has not yet been stopped; thousands of people have lost their homes.How bizarre... has this sort of disaster happened before?The Sidoarjo disaster is an example of a 'mud volcano'. Mud and gas accumulates when sea sediments are trapped in subduction zones, where one tectonic plate slides under another, and can erupt out of volcanic cones or simply from a crack in the ground.
Mud volcanoes have burst on every continent, but are abundant in the South Caspian region (offshore and onshore Azerbaijan) and offshore Indonesia in the East Java Basin.But the Sidoarjo mud volcano is rather unusual. It's huge. And, says Sam Rice, a geologist with the Cambridge Antarctic Shelf Programme, UK, reports of the mud eruption suggest that it is a hybrid between typical mud volcanoes and hydrothermal vents.
The mud is of an unusually high temperature (60 °C) and contains enormously high concentrations of hydrogen sulphide gas. This suggests that some kind of volcanic, hydrothermal activity is going on at the same time.What creates the conditions for a mud volcano?Achim Kopf, a geologist from the University of Bremen, Germany, who has studied mud volcanoes extensively, explains that marine sediment can be scraped off an oceanic tectonic plate as it slides underneath a continental plate. If the sediment accumulates rapidly and water is trapped in its pores, this can stop the sediment being cemented by pressure.
The resulting reservoir of mud can be trapped underground. In the case of the East Java mud flow, the mud is thought to have come from a reservoir some 2.7 kilometres below the Earth's surface.And what triggers an eruption?A number of things can create a crack that allows trapped mud to bubble to the surface; particularly earthquakes and drilling.And in Java specifically?In Java both of these things have happened recently.
The oil and gas exploration company PT Lapindo Brantas is drilling in the area, and the gas and hot mud first spewed from the company's drilling rig on 28 May.Geologist Georg Delisle of the Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), Hannover, Germany, explains that the drilling apparently penetrated into the liquid sediment and created a connection back to the surface. The pressure then squeezed up the mud, like toothpaste from a tube. But it is likely that other connections were made to the surface, he adds — not just through the drilling pipe — because attempts to pump concrete into the pipe to block the flow of mud have failed.
On 27 May an earthquake struck and devastated Yogyakarta on Java, and this too could have cracked the ground, potentially helping to release the mud. But the quake's epicentre was some 300 kilometres away from the mud volcano (making it only 2 on the Richter scale in that area).The issue of what, exactly, caused this disaster is highly politically charged. It is still under investigation by police, the government and international experts.Just how big is the eruption?
According to many geological experts, the scale of this mud volcano is unprecedented — at least on land. In 1945, the Makran earthquake in Pakistan triggered the sudden emergence of three offshore mud volcanoes, and in March 1999 a mud volcano rose out of the water overnight to form Malan Island, 3 kilometres from Pakistan's coast. It is hard to estimate the volume of mud created by such underwater eruptions.
And, notes Rice: "Because the extrusion of mud and toxic gas occurs on the seabed it does not threaten human life and does not make the headlines."'Well-kick' — the sudden surface eruption of gas and mud during offshore oil drilling — is common, but usually stops after a few days. Delisle recalls a smaller-scale incident in the 1960s where a geothermal well in the Wairakei geothermal field, New Zealand, ran wild: it took 3 months to stop the geothermal steam that found its way to the surface alongside the original borehole.
Can the disaster be stopped?Nobody knows. So far, nothing has worked. PT Lapindo Brantas's senior vice-president Imam Agustino has been quoted saying: "The best-case scenario [for stopping the mudflow] is now mid-November, but I have to admit it might never be stopped."
Sunday, August 27, 2006
Update on how Mayon has affected villagers so far
Background - what has happened
Mayon Volcano, located in the Bicol Region, Province of Albay, is one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines. It has erupted at least 41 times and last erupted in February 2000. On July 14, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level in Mayon to level 3 after observing that incandescent lava fragments were detaching from the summit crater. It also recorded 25 short tremors.
On August 7, PHIVOLCS raised the alert status to level 4. A series of six minor explosions occurred. An Extended Danger Zone (EDZ), an area within eight kilometers of the summit crater in the southern sector, was recommended. At the other areas around the volcano, the EDZ is seven kilometers from the summit crater.
The front of the lava flow along the Mabinit Channel has reached 200 meters downslope of the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone boundary at an elevation of 262 meters above sea level. A second lava flow along the Bonga Gully was located at 5.4 aerial kilometers from the crater, with a 305-meter elevation., with a 305-meter elevation.
During this period, PHIVOLCS ordered the evacuation of communities in areas covered by the 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. As of August 22, PHIVOLCS had observed six minor explosions during a 24-hour observation period. A total of 24 volcanic earthquakes and 431 tremor episodes were also recorded.
The volcanic earthquakes were associated with magma movement and degassing within the volcano. Tremor episodes produced by rock-fall and detaching lava fragments from the lava flow indicate active deposition of lava.
Visual observations showed moderate steaming. The visibility of the volcano was obscured most of the time, but incandescent materials and crater glow were also observed. PHIVOLCS maintains the status of alert level 4. This means that hazardous explosive eruptions are still possible. The public is reminded that the eight-kilometer radius (EDZ) in the southeast sector of the volcano should be off-limits at all times.
What people in threatened areas are doing
The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) released an update on August 21, stating that around 9,905 families of 48,261 individuals from 32 barangays from 5 affected municipalities and 3 cities have evacuated. They are staying at 28 recognized evacuation centers across Albay Province.
There are growing fears of disease due to overcrowding. Health clinics have been set up in every evacuation center by the provincial government. Children are being immunized mainly against measles, typhoid and other infectious diseases. In some of the evacuation centers contaminated water systems are being chlorinated.
About 50 hectares of farmland have been destroyed. Lava has trickled down at least 6.7 kilometers since July 14, covering once fertile agricultural lands with molten rock and debris 10 to 15 meters deep. Many coconut groves were also burned.
ACT member response
Andurog Mayon, the National Council of Churches in the Philippines (NCCP) Disaster Response Committee formed in 1999 among the three NCCP member churches in Albay Province, has been reactivated to respond to the emergency situation.
Aside from the hazards brought about by Mayon Volacano, the region is also located in the path of typhoons which devastate the area so often.
ACT member NCCP aims to provide assistance to 4,000 families, mostly poor farmers and farm workers displaced by the Mayon Volcano eruption.
Relief assistance will be provided through distribution of food (rice, canned goods, noodles, milk, sugar, legumes, salt), non-food items (laundry soap, ash masks, water containers, kitchen utensils, blankets, sleeping mats), and other items that may be identified. Medicines will also be provided to patients during medical missions.
Rehabilitation assistance will likewise be provided to families who are having difficulties in restoring their sources of livelihood, particularly those whose crops and livestock were destroyed. Food-for-work will also be provided to around 1,000 families who will need further assistance before they can finally recover from their economic losses.
Disaster-management seminars will be conducted for new volunteers from the member churches as well as communities affected by the eruption.
The implementation period is set for ten months up to June 2007.
Proposed Budget (USD)
Crisis Phase for 4,000 families
Food assistance: 35,240
Non Food items: 10,900
Health inputs: 1,700
Total crisis phase: 47,840
Post crisis phase for 1000 families
Agriculture support: 50,000
Disaster management: 2,000
Total post crisis phase: 59,185
Transport, warehousing: 4,200
Personnel, admin, operational costs: 19,280
Audit, evaluation: 900
Total requested: 131,405
The ACT CO expects to issue the appeal - ASPH62 - before the end of August.
Mayon's volcanic eruption may cost a lot but also made a lot of profit!
From year 2000 to the present the Albay Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO) has collected revenues from quarrying, fees from contractors and fines amounting to P44.78 million.
Antonio Sajuela, acting PENRO head, said there are some sectors that are happy whenever Mayon Volcano erupts because this replenishes the extracted aggregates from the different river channels downslope.
"Of course, I sympathize with the thousands of evacuees as well as the damage to agricultural crops," Sajuela quipped.
He said that revenues for the provincial government come from the issuance of quarrying, contractors' clearance for infrastructure projects and fines from illegal quarrying.
In 2000, PENRO collected P3.41 million; in 2001 - P7.21 million; 2002 - P10.56 million; 2003 - P8.89 million; 2004 - P7.53 million; 2005 - P8.05 million; and as of July this year - P6.64 million, from quarrying fees.
Sajuela said Mayon aggregates are well known among construction firms. ''In fact, big construction companies like NFN owned by Roger Peyra of Camarins Sur get their aggregates at the Banao River in Ligao City as well as those from Sorsogon and as far as Samar.''
Sajuela also bared that PENRO teams are also going after illegal sand and gravel haulers. "Often they haul sand and gravel in the morning and leave in late afternoon during Saturdays and Sundays because they know we're not around."
If caught hauling gravel illegally, a four-wheel truck is fined P2,000, six-wheeler truck - P5,000 with the added fine of P1.50 per cubic meter of sand and P2.50 per cubic meter of gravel hauled.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) estimates there are 53.459 million cubic meters of volcanic debris deposited at the slopes of Mayon Volcano during the 2000 and 2001 eruptions.
Judes Dizon, senior science research specialist of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (MGB-DENR) said that the sand and boulders deposited at the different river channels are of high quality.
The sand and boulders have sound specific gravity because they come from igneous rock from lava flow and pyroclastic materials spewed by the volcano unlike other aggregates which are mixed with earth, Dizon said.
Eng'r Manuel Azurin, head of Albay engineering district of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), admits that the sand from Mayon Volcano is of high quality.
Azurin said stones and boulders are good for building construction and the sand is ideal for road construction.
"But the boulders are not good for road construction because based on our test they (the boulders) cause tire abrasion," Azurin said in an interview.
Azurin urged the provincial government to dredge the heavily silted channels of Bonga and Buyoan at the southeast sector of the volcano facing this city and the town of Daraga and Sto. Domingo, after the engineering district has stopped dredging activities in 2002 and 2003 with 10 per cent of the 53 million cubic meters of deposits removed.
"It's necessary to desilt these major river channels to prevent lahar and mud flows from spilling over to residential areas," he added.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Tungurahua volcano cost six lives so far...
The mountain erupted Wednesday, leaving seven nearby villages damaged or destroyed. The number of people missing has risen to 60.
An estimated 4,000 people have been forced to flee to emergency shelters.
Ecuadorean officials and private relief agencies estimate that up to 20,000 people will need financial and material assistance because of disruption to their agricultural livelihoods. Thick layers of ash have blanketed the area around Tungurahua, which has an altitude of 5,023 metres at its peak in the Andean Cordillera Central of central Ecuador.
The central government has issued disaster declarations for at least three provinces.
Tungurahua, nicknamed the Black Giant by locals, lies about 140 kilometres south of the capital Quito and has been intermittently active since 1999 after a long dormant period.
Geologists have warned that further eruptions are possible.
Erupting volcano in Ecuador makes thousands homeless
Tens of thousands of acres of pasture and crops were also destroyed, according to the Associated Press citing the Civil Defense. The AP reported Oswaldo Proano, a spokesman for the Red Cross, told Radio Bolivar that “the situation in the villages affected by the eruption ... is difficult since all the water for human consumption is contaminated with ash."Officials said tanker trucks were helping to solve water problems, but donations of bottled water were still needed.
Marcelo Villagomez, Civil Defense coordinator of the province of Chimborazo, told the AP there were sufficient stores of food and water to last 15 days and requests have been made for additional supplies.Mario Paredes, a Church of the Nazarene district superintendent, said, “Overnight on Wednesday, August 16, the volcano exploded again, but this time stronger. It was the biggest in the last 120 years.
A lot of ash has fallen in Riobamba and Ambato.” On Friday, August 18, Paredes calculated that more than 100,000 bags of ash had been gathered. Some news agencies are reporting as much as 10 million tons of ash has fallen on areas surrounding the volcano.“Many towns have completely disappeared,” says Pastor Paredes, “So far, there have been four deaths, including a boy from our school.” Dozens of people are still missing from the surrounding communities. “At this point our town is like a desert,” says Paredes. “With so much volcanic ash, we have suspended all of our activities.” Paredes said cases of water and food are slow to arrive and some areas are not receiving any supplies at all due to conditions.
Dwight Rich, field strategy coordinator for the area, said all major highways remain closed and communication is extremely slow coming out of the affected areas.“I ask you all to pray for us here,” says Paredes. “Although we are scared, we are calm and trusting in our all-powerful God.”According to the AP, the eruption was the 14th time Tungurahua has sent hot lava and ash onto villages on its flanks since its first recorded eruption in 1534. After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Mayon still at Level 4 as it is still dangerous
A. Mayon Update as of 220800H August 2006
- Six (6) minor explosions were generated by the volcano but were not observed due to clouds covering the summit crater.
- A total of 24 volcanic earthquakes and 431 tremor episodes were recorded. The volcanic earthquakes are associated with magma movement and degassing within the volcano. Tremor episodes produced by rockfalls and detaching lava fragments from the lava flow indicate active depositon of lava.
- ALERT LEVEL 4 is still in effect, which means that hazardous explosive eruptions are still possible. The 8-kilometer radius Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) in the southeast sector should continue to be off- limits and 7- kilometers at other areas around the volcano.
- Residents of areas just outside and adjacent to the EDZ are also advised to be on alert regarding their status for possible evacuation in case volcanic activities escalates.
B Status of Evacuation Operations
- The total number of evacuees coming from the 32 barangays of Sto.Domingo, Daraga, Camalig, Malilipot, and Guinobatan; and the cities of Legazpi, Ligao and Tabaco is 9,245 families or 43,430 persons (staying inside the 29 evacuation centers) while a total of 127 families or 561 persons were staying outside evacuation centers in Brgys Mabinit, Bonga, Natanag and Buyuan, Legaspi City.
II. Humanitarian Response
A. The amount of assistance from national (DSWD, DOH, BFAR and PNRC), local (LGUs, NGOs and other GOs ) and foreign donation is P15,658,420.19 (cash - P4,961,296.00 and in kind – P10,697,124.19)
B. The amount of standby funds from OP, DSWD, DOH and PNRC is P262,313,268.21.
NDCC MEDIA UPDATE
C. Local Actions:
- DOH RO5 is conducting regular surveillance on the health status of evacuees.
- OCD-RDCC will install a tent hospital in San Andres Evacuation Center, Sto Domingo, Albay.
- CHD-V purchased additional medicines and dental supplies for AFP ResCom's Medical Mission Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
- OCD-RDCC distributed portalets to designated evacuation sites.
- Allocation of inflatable water tank to be used at Bagumbayan Elementary School for domestic use.
Evacuation Centers Management /Shelter
- PDCC allocated tarpaulin tents provided by UNICEF for distribution to the evacuation centers to serve as holding area of the evacuees while classes are going on
- Coordinated and submitted the distribution lists of LGUs requiring tents donated by Japanese Government thru JICA coordinator Logistics
- OCDRC-V facilitated the following:
Installation of VHF Repeater in Estanza, Legaspi City to enhance transmitting capability
Repair of standby generator set (30 KVA) to be utilized in the tent hospital
Transport of relief items donated by SM Foundation and Liberty Commodities
With the exception of public UN sources, reproduction or redistribution of the above text, in whole, part or in any form, requires the prior consent of the original source.
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Tungurahua may not be done yet!
"We never thought Tungurahua would awake like this," Egas said of the volcano - whose name means "throat of fire" in the local Quichua language.
Authorities said Saturday that three people had died from the 19-hour eruption, which ended Thursday before dawn, and that two others were feared killed.
Another 30 people listed as missing had been found alive.
Egas and a few others remain in Bilbao, defying a government order to evacuate the "red zone" and warnings from experts that, though eerily calm, the Tungurahua volcano could be poised to erupt again.
"We feared a big eruption, but not of this magnitude," said Egas, looking at metre-deep drifts of volcanic ash that caved in rooftops, and the still-hot pyroclastic flows - superheated material that shoots down the sides of volcanos like a fiery avalanche at up to 300 kph.
About 80 per cent of Bilbao's adobe brick homes were destroyed.
Nearly all of its 500 inhabitants fled to makeshift shelters in churches and schools in villages farther from the volcano, like Cotalo, 10 kilometres to the northwest.
"We are afraid, but we cannot leave our belongings, what little we have," said Egas, who remained in Bilbao with his parents.
A few metres away, volcanic steam rose off an ash-contaminated creek that had supplied the community's irrigation water.
The explosion disrupted the lives of about 30 000 people, many of them poor Quichua-speaking Indians, in three highland provinces, officials said.
Police Capt. Jorge Ubidia said Saturday in Cotalo that he believed everyone should evacuate the volcano's slopes.
"The problem is that people don't want to leave, and we don't know if we should take them out by force," he told The Associated Press, peering up toward the volcano, shrouded in clouds.
"We're very frightened."
Jose Grijalva, director of Ecuador's Civil Defence, said 3 000 people were evacuated under an emergency order immediately before and during the eruption, but many have returned.
Bilbao is one of five areas, mostly on the volcano's western slope, where people are forbidden to enter, he said.
People along the slopes farther north have been advised to evacuate voluntarily, and Banos -a popular tourist city of 18 000 at the northeast foot of the volcano - is on alert.
Grijalva confirmed two fatalities and said 30 people listed as missing had been located in the homes of relatives or in shelters.
Seven people remained hospitalised Saturday for injuries and burns.
Meanwhile, Juan Salazar, mayor of the village of Penipe, said the body of a man had been recovered nearby on Saturday .
The 85-year-old had been washed away by a flood of water caused by volcanic ash damming up the Puela river, and he was found by his family
Kilauea shows signs of possible upcoming eruption
While this bulge isn't cause for immediate concern, he says some bulges result in eruptions after several decades. The bulge has lifted the volcano four-point-three inches since earlier this year. The bulge is caused by magma swelling into a reservoir beneath the surface. As it builds up, the reservoir inflates, causing the ground around it to crack.
Tungurahua's volcanic eruption cost a life and more!
Ecuador's Tungurahua volcano spewed molten rock that enveloped nearby houses on Thursday and a local mayor reported one person dead and 60 missing as authorities evacuated hundreds of families.
Massive clouds of ash descended on frightened villagers fleeing the area with their belongings strapped to their backs and their livestock trailing behind. Some wore buckets over their heads for protection.
"We have recovered the body of one man," Juan Salazar, the mayor of nearby Penipe, told a local television station. "We have three or four other people trapped in the rubble."
Rescuers searched for missing people while a local police chief said a handful of homes had been swallowed up by the molten rock, which also blocked nearby Chambo River.
"We don't know how many people are missing, but the rescue operation is difficult because many roads are blocked," Edison Llagua, a spokesman of the Tungurahua provincial government, told Reuters.
Tungurahua, about 130km south of capital city Quito, had shown a sharp increase in activity in July, causing hundreds to flee.
"This is a lot worse than the last time," Mauro Rodriguez, the Civil Defence chief for the Tungurahua province, told Reuters. "We have so far evacuated around 300 families living near the volcano."
A hospital official in the neighbouring province of Chimborazo told a local television station that two people are being treated for second and third degree burns and another for respiratory problems.
"The volcano's activity ended abruptly this morning," said Hugo Yepes, the head of Ecuador's National Geophysics Institute. "But we cannot rule out more explosions."
Thousands of people crowded into nearby churches and schools, said Javier Bermeo who runs the shelters in Tungurahua province. He said the exact number of evacuees, mostly from towns on the west side of the crater, was not yet known.
Electricity flow to the oil-rich provinces of Sucumbios, Napo and Pastaza was shut down because transmission lines were affected by the Tungurahua's ash and flows of molten rock.
Ecuador's key oil industry was not disrupted by the blackouts, a state oil company official told Reuters.
The country's two main international airports in Quito and the port city of Guayaquil remain open, but some airlines have delayed flights, aviation officials said.
During the early hours of Thursday residents of the tourist town of Banos, with a population of around 17,000, left their homes, but the city mayor told Reuters most have already returned to the town on the south side of the volcano's crater.
More explosions said likely
Scientists with the National Geophysics Institute said the volcano's activity had abruptly stopped on Thursday morning. But more explosions could be on the way.
"It's very likely that we will continue to see explosions in coming days or weeks," said Santiago Arellano, a scientist with the institute staying near the site. "But I don't think we will have a big, massive explosion that will tear everything apart."
He said the explosions are part of the volcano's eruption process that started in 1999 after decades of inactivity. Tungurahua is on of Ecudaor's 31 active volcanos.
Sunday, August 20, 2006
Mount Etna scan's results reveal that it is preparing a volcano eruption
The Sicilian volcano is almost always bubbling with activity, but despite this thousands of people live safely on its slopes. In 2002, however, there was an unusually violent eruption that geophysicists believe was caused by gas-rich magma rising within the volcano.
Now a team led by Domenico Patanè at Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania, Sicily, has used seismic data to peek inside the volcano. From variations in the seismic waves from local earthquakes that passed through Mount Etna before and after the 2002 outburst they were able to build up a 3D picture showing magma rising within the volcano a few months before the eruption (Science, vol 313, p 821). "We used a technique similar to a medical CAT scan," Patanè says.
The monitoring exercise was helped by the existence of a dense grid of seismic stations around the volcano. Patanè hopes that such networks will be placed around other volcanoes too. "This could be a powerful tool for forecasting highly explosive eruptions," he says.
Mayon's lava flows stops
He said that the lava extrusion has already slowed down and was only moving down to the mid-slope. The movement of the lava toe had already totally stop which eliminates the possibility of it moving beyond seven kilometer danger boundary that could have threatened the barangays of Mabini, Bonga, Matanag, here, and Matnog in Daraga town.
Laguera added that the threat of the lava proceeding towards the populated areas down Mayon’s slopes is currently eliminated at this stage.
He said they would need at least a week or two to determine whether the 2,462-meter volcano’s overall activities are already waning, saying other parameters remained very high compared to their normal readings.
He added that while the other parameters are in the downward trend, the other parameters remained very high, such as the SO2 which again at over 6,500 tons in yesterday’s reading.
Laguerta said that at least 15 more volcanic quakes, indicating continued magma ascent towards the surface of the volcano, and some 253 tremors caused by lava extrusion and rockfalls were detected by the agency’s instruments.
"With these fluctuating parameters, there is no guarantee yet or solid basis to say that Mayon is already simmering down," Laguerta said.
Phivolcs latest bulletin said that "lack of explosions for the past 24 hours does not mean that the activity of Mayon is waning. Other parameters like elevated SO2 flux, continuous lava flow and significant number of volcanic earthquake are indicators that the volcano is still undergoing high level of unrest."
The institute maintained alert level 4 over Mayon, saying that everybody must remain alert for a hazardous explosive eruptions that might happen anytime.
Because of Mayon’s abnormal condition some 43,849 persons or 9,336 families remained housed yesterday at the 28 evacuation centers in the three cities and five municipality of Albay.
Volcano eruption in Ecuador is a source of tragedie and destruction
During the night of Wedendsday to Thursday the 5,023 m high volcano spat lava, stones and ash for several hours. The 10km high ash cloud spread over an area of 740 by 180 km. Towns like Ambato or Riobamba which are 30 km away from the volcano have still been covered with up to 5cm of ash. Pyroclastic flows descending on the northwestern slopes of the volcan left a path of destruction behind. At least seven small villages and hamlets have been completely destroyed.
The ash and rocks blocked the Chambo and the Peula river and the road Ambato - Ecuadorian highlands and the amazon region. The Institute for Geophysics has lost an important part of its equipment installed on the slopes of Tungurahua, limiting their capability to monitor the volcanic activity.
The Hydroelectric power plant Agoyan had to be shut down.
The night of Wednesday the Hydroelectric power plant Agoyan near Bahas been shut down. During Thursday air traffic in the whole country was limited due to ash layers on several airports. On Thursday the provinces of Chimborazo, Tungurahua, Cotopaxi and Bolivar have been declared desaster area. Losses in agriculture due to the ash cover are estimated at $150 Million.
On Friday the volcanic activity declined and the volcano still stays calm on Saturday evening, but the Ecuadorian Institute for Geophysics warns that a further eruption may be imminent.
In 1999, after a long period of rest, the volcano started an eruptive process that continues to this day. After the first eruptions in October 1999 which produced a major ash out-fall and led to the temporary evacuation of more than 25,000 inhabitants of Baand its surroundings, the activity continued on a medium level until in May 2006 it increased dramatically culminating in violent eruptions on July 14 and August 16.
Experts predict another eruption for volcano in Ecuador
"We never thought Tungurahua would awake like this," Egas said of the volcano whose name means "throat of fire" in the local Quichua language.
Authorities said Saturday that three people had died from the 19-hour eruption, which ended Thursday before dawn, and that two others were feared dead. Another 30 people who had been listed as missing have been located alive.
Egas and a few others remain in Bilbao, defying a standing government evacuation order to leave the "red zone," and warnings from experts that, though eerily calm, the Tungurahua volcano could be poised to erupt again.
"We feared a big eruption, but not of this magnitude," said Egas, looking at meter-deep (3-foot-deep) drifts of volcanic ash that caved in rooftops, and the still hot pyroclastic flows superheated material that shoots down the sides of volcanos like a fiery avalanche at up to 190 mph (300 kph).
About 80 percent of Bilbao's adobe brick homes were destroyed.
Nearly all of its 500 inhabitants fled to makeshift shelters in churches and schools in villages farther from the volcano, like Cotalo, 10 kilometers (six miles) to the northwest.
"We are afraid, but we cannot leave our belongings, what little we have," said Egas, who remained in Bilbao with his parents. A few meters (yards) away, volcanic steam rose off an ash-contaminated creek that had supplied the community's irrigation water.
The eruption disrupted the lives of about 30,000 people, many of them poor Quichua-speaking Indians, in three highland provinces, officials said.
Police Capt. Jorge Ubidia said Saturday in Cotalo that he believed everyone should clear off the volcano's slopes.
"The problem is that people don't want to leave, and we don't know if we should take them out by force," he told The Associated Press, peering up toward the volcano, shrouded in clouds. "We're very frightened."
Jose Grijalva, director of Ecuador's Civil Defense, said 3,000 people were evacuated under an emergency order immediately before and during the eruption, but many of them have returned.
Bilbao is one five areas, mostly on the volcano's western slope, where people are forbidden to enter, he said. People in other areas along the slopes farther north had been advised to evacuate voluntarily, and Banos the popular tourist city of 18,000 at the northeast foot of the volcano is on alert.
Grijalva confirmed two fatalities, and said that 30 other people listed as missing had been located in the homes of relatives or in shelters. Seven people remained hospitalized Saturday for injuries and burns.
Meanwhile, Juan Salazar, village mayor of Penipe, said the body of a man had been recovered Saturday outside the village.
The 85-year-old had been washed away by a flood of water caused by volcanic ash damming up the Puela river, and he was found by his family.
"We never thought Tungurahua would do this to us. I am not going to live here anymore," said Maria Hidalgo, the dead man's niece, in Palictahua, a hamlet near Penipe, where the eruption destroyed all 15 homes.
Authorities were searching for two more people from the hamlet believed crushed under fallen debris.
Ecuador's Geophysics Institute urged residents and tourists to stay away from the 16,575-foot (5,023-meter) volcano, located some 135 kilometers (85 miles) south of the capital of Quito.
The volcano remained in an apparent state of calm Saturday, said institute volcanologist Patricia Mothes from an observation post near Tungurahua. But she warned that energy was building up inside.
"We have had 72 hours go by and after several days of accumulating energy, many times there is an abrupt change, but when that will be, nobody knows," she said in a telephone interview.
Ash from the eruption covers about 20,000 hectares (nearly 500,000 acres) of pasture land and corn, potato and other crops, said Patricio Donoso, president of Ecuador's Chamber of Agriculture.
Some 350 cows, pigs and other livestock have died, he added, and thousands of other head of livestock are "suffering digestive and respiratory problems" from volcanic contamination of grass and water.
The eruption Thursday was the 14th time Tungurahua has sent hot lava and ash onto villages on its flanks since its first recorded eruption in the Spanish colonial era in 1534. After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.
Associated Press Writer Gabriela Molina contributed to this report from Quito, Ecuador.
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Experts are confused by Mayon's abnormal behavior!
He said that they still need to wait for a week or two to determine the general trend of Mayon’s abnormal behavior, adding that the past eruptions of Mayon Volcano were marked by fluctuations in the recorded parameters, but sometimes still proceeded to a hazardous explosion.
Phivolc’s bulletin reported: "Last night’s observation revealed the apparent decrease in rockfall activity and a noticeable decrease in the intensity of glow from lava deposits on the middle and lower slopes of the volcano."
Laguerta stressed that Alert Level 4 remains over Mayon because most of its abnormal precursors are still very high, compared to their normal readings.
Two more explosions were detected by Phivolcs’ instruments at 3:35 a.m. and 4:14 a.m. At least 22 volcanic earthquakes, indicating continuing magma ascent towards the crater, 240 lava extrusion-tremors and rockfalls were also recorded in the past 24 hours. Sulfur Dioxide (SO2) emission was also measured at 2,712 tons, compared to the almost similar volume of 2,937 tons last Friday, the institute said.
"The estimated volume of erupted volcanic deposits is now 36 to 41 million cubic meters. However, the front of the lava flow deposit in the vicinity of the Mabinit and Bonga gullies is estimated to be still within seven aerial kilometers from the crater," the Phivolcs bulletin said.
The institute maintained Alert Level 4 over Mayon, saying that a hazardous explosive eruption may still occur anytime."
Meanwhile, data from Albay’s Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council office showed a slight decrease in the number of evacuees recorded at 43,148 persons or 9,337 families, short by 100 persons compared to the other day’s 43,248 persons or 9,382 families housed in 28 evacuation centers. At least 32 barangays from the three cities and five towns around MayonVolcano in Albay province were affected adversely by the on-going "quiet eruption" of the Philippines’ most restive volcano.
A tent hospital donated to the National Disaster Coordinating Council by the US government was being set up in the Barangay Salvacion evacuation center in Sto. Domingo, Albay. The makeshift hospital will attend to the health needs of over 2,000 evacuees in the center.
About 100 portalets or "portable toilets" were also being set up in several evacuation centers to meet their hygiene and sanitation requirements.
Mayon is getting ready to blow again!
They said instruments detected a slight swelling in the mountain’s upper part and some deformation on the ground as fresh magma started pushing up to the top.
Volcanologist Ed Laguerta said there was a high probability of the volcano erupting any time following recent readings.
“Almost all parameters such as lava flows, ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and the recent edifice swelling indicate that the volcano could blow any time,” Laguerta said.
He said Mayon was shifting from magma buildup to ground inflation leading to ash explosions, pyroclastic flows, and finally to an eruption.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said the volcano continued to push lava some 6.7 km down its slopes, bringing the lava deposit to 40 million cu m and surpassing the deposits from its previous eruptions.
Scientists warned residents against mistaking the calm for a signal to return home because the instruments were saying otherwise.
“What you observe on Mayon on the outside is not what it is on the inside,” said Ernesto Corpuz, the volcanology institute’s monitoring chief.
Disaster management chief Cedric Daep said he would order no evacuee to return home until scientists told him it was safe to do so.
“Although we are the one in charge of disaster control, it is solely the experts who can interpret Mayon’s condition,” he said.
He said the evacuees from the danger zones around the volcano should be no more than 30,000 or 34,000, but the head count at the evacuation centers showed there were more than 44,000.
“We have an official count of over 44,000 but we were only expecting 34,000,” he said.
“It could be that even those we did not advise to evacuate still went ahead and left their homes. We have to check on this.”
The evacuees from 32 towns are housed in 28 evacuation centers in five towns and three cities in Albay.
But some reports said jeeploads of evacuees had been seen going back to their homes within the 6- to 8-km danger zones.
Ecuador mourns for victims of volcanic eruption
She mourned her uncle at a funeral parlour in Penipe, a hamlet to which she and other villagers had fled as Tugurahua -- which means "throat of fire" in the Quechua language -- erupted on Thursday.At least five people were killed, 13 more were injured and entire villages were buried under ash and lava.The body at the Penipe funeral parlour was the only one that was recovered; the others are feared buried under the lava.
Many of the survivors have lost the little they owned. Gladys Balseca may be among the lucky ones, even though her small farm was completely destroyed. "Thank God we still have a few sheep, rabbits and chickens," she said.About 4 000 people living at the foot of the volcano were evacuated, more than 20 000ha of farmland were destroyed and hundreds of cows were killed, officials said. A farmers' association estimated losses at $150-million.
The powerful explosion produced "glowing rocks, ash and lava that devastated several areas", said Penipe mayor Juan Salazar, whose community is covered in a dense layer of ash. "We suffered 18 continuous hours of fire."Experts have not ruled out renewed eruptions. "We can't say whether this is the last eruption," said Hugo Yepez, who heads Quito University's Geophysical Institute.The Ecuadorian government on Friday appealed for international aid to provide urgently needed food, medicine and financial assistance to the victims."There's nothing left, just bones. I don't know how we managed to escape," said Juana Merino, who returned with military troops on Friday to find her village of Palitahua completely destroyed."This here was my aunt's house, the neighbour's was there," she said pointing to the emptiness where the homes once stood.
Army Major Cleber Guaytirilla was evidently stunned by the devastation. "We came because we thought we could rescue something, but there is nothing left."Charred cattle carcasses littered the ash-covered ground.The eruption also caused the closure of three regional airports and a hydroelectric power station. Authorities had to shut down the installation for fear debris hurled into the waters that feed the power plant could damage the two turbines.
The 5 029m volcano erupted violently before dawn Thursday following a 4,4-magnitude earthquake. The eruption was the strongest since 1999, officials said.On Friday, visible volcanic activity was minimal, but magma apparently continued to accumulate inside the volcano, suggesting new eruptions would eventually take place, said Yepez of the Geophysical Institute.
30 people are missing since volcano eruption in Ecuador
The volcano is now quiet, but geology professor Theofilos Toulkeridis, of Quito's San Francisco University, warned: "It is not good news that the volcano is calm. That is not a good sign."
If Tungurahua remained plugged up "at the upper part of the chimney" it would start to "accumulate gas and magma," he told The Associated Press. "The more time that passes with it capped, the worse it is."
Volcanic ash rained down about 140 miles west of Tungurahua, which exploded before dawn Thursday and smothered its lush green slopes in a dull gray blanket of ash. Trees were singed bare by fiery volcanic flows.
Authorities had ordered the evacuation of a dozen hamlets on the volcano's slopes. Ecuador's Civil Defense said about 4,500 people were able to escape the rivers of fire _ a horrific sight to villagers in the middle of the frigid Andean night. A dozen people were hospitalized Friday for injuries and burns.
It was the 14th time Tungurahua has sent hot lava and ash onto villages on its flanks since its first recorded eruption in the Spanish colonial era in 1534. After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.
Carlos Puente, governor of Chimborazo province, said 30,000 to 40,000 people had inhabited the western slopes, the most damaged of the volcano, before the eruption, but that now "no one is left."
At least a dozen villages on the volcano's western slopes were seriously damaged or destroyed, and televised images showed the tops of electricity poles jutting from the smoldering flow that smothered more than 100 homes in the village of Juibe Grande. Authorities said the village's 600 residents escaped in time.
They were less sure about the many holdouts who refused to answer evacuation orders Wednesday in three hamlets high on the slopes of the volcano, which is some 85 miles south of the capital of Quito.
A doctor said about 50 people from the village of Penipe were treated for burns caused by "lava flows and incandescent rocks that burned them as they tried to flee."
"They were also burned by vapor and the elevated heat in the zone. It was a scene of chaos, a Dantesque situation," Dr. Hernan Ayala told Ecuador's Channel 4 from a medical center in Riobamba, where many of the victims were taken.
Rescuers recovered the body of a 50-year-old man in Penipe who was burned to death when he tried to return to his home to retrieve a television set, Puente said.
Hortensia Chicaiza and her husband searched desperately through an ash-covered field for food for her livestock.
"Does God do this in other places or does this only happen here?" she said as she pulled up fistfuls of ashy vegetation.
Pyroclastic flows _ superheated material that shoots down the sides of volcanos at up to 190 mph _ damaged access roads and blocked three rivers and forced the shutdown of a hydroelectric. Four jungle provinces were without power for hours until energy officials were able to rerouted lines.
Friday, August 18, 2006
Tungurahua volcano causes destruction
Volcanic ash rained down about 230 kilometers (140 miles) to the west after Tungurahua's 5,023-meter-high (16,575-foot-high) crater filled with magma and then exploded overnight.
The volcano was still unleashing a blast of gas and ash Thursday that reached as high as 8 kilometers (5 miles) into the sky.
"Does God do this in other places or does this only happen here?" said Hortensia Chicaiza as she desperately searched for food for her livestock in ash-laden vegetation near the town of Queros, 20 kilometers (12 miles) northwest of the volcano.
At least a dozen villages on the volcano's western slopes were seriously damaged or destroyed.
"This is an indescribable catastrophe," said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, one of the villages. "The houses have collapsed. The rocks that fell caused injuries and burns."
In the village of Palitagua, roofs were pocked and perforated by flaming rocks, and there was heavy damage to the villages of Bilbao and Penipe.
Three other villages -- Chilibu, Choglontuz and Palitagua -- "no longer exist -- everything is wiped out," Salazar said.
Televised images showed just the tops of electricity poles jutting out from the smoldering pyroclastic flow that smothered 107 homes in the village of Juibe Grande, on the volcano's northwest slope. Authorities said that village's 600 residents escaped in time.
They were less sure about the many holdouts who refused to answer evacuation orders Wednesday in three hamlets high on the slopes of the volcano, which is some 135 kilometers (85 miles) south of the capital of Quito.
The pyroclastic flow -- superheated material that shoots down the sides of volcanoes like a fiery avalanche at up to 300 kph (190 mph) -- damaged roads and blocked the Patate, Puela and Chambo rivers.
That forced the shutdown of the Agoyan hydroelectric plant about six kilometers (four miles) from the volcano, denying power to all or part of four jungle provinces in Ecuador, already in a serious energy crunch due to a prolonged drought.
A doctor said about 50 people from Penipe were treated for burns caused by "pyroclastic flows and incandescent rocks that burned them as they tried to flee."
He said they also were injured by superheated vapor. "It was a scene of chaos, a Dantesque situation," Dr. Hernan Ayala told Ecuador's Channel 4 from a medical center in Riobamba, where many of the victims were taken. "There are six whom we consider the most grave, one of them with burns over 85 percent of the body."
The ash cloud reached almost all the way from the Andes to the Pacific, forcing flights between Quito and Ecuador's largest city of Guayaquil to be suspended due to poor visibility, said Quito's airport chief, Rene Estrella.
Ecuador's Civil Defense said about 4,500 people were able to escape the rivers of fire -- a horrific sight to villagers in the middle of the frigid Andean night.
Rescuers recovered the body of a 50-year-old man in Penipe and four others were believed trapped under the rubble.
"There are 60 other people who are on the high flanks of the volcano whom we could not get to this morning," Salazar said.
Along villages and towns that were not evacuated, people organized to try to clear roads of the ash that swirled in clouds with every passing vehicle.
"We're buried in ash between five and 10 centimeters (two and four inches) thick," said Manuel Caizabanda, mayor of Pelileo, 18 kilometers (11 miles) northwest of the volcano. "There is nothing left of our agriculture. We ask for help, support for the people and the large and small livestock."
President Alfredo Palacio said the government had released US$2 million (euro1.55 million) to help people displaced by the eruption.
Col. Robert Rodriguez, deputy director of Ecuador's Civil Defense, said more than half the residents of Banos -- a popular tourist city of 18,000 at the northeast foot of the volcano -- had evacuated, many fleeing before dawn as the ash rained down.
By daylight, Banos was covered in a thick brown soup, its houses, cars and roads smothered, its trees ripped bare.
Banos resident Gabriela Gonzalez went out at dawn with a cloth bag to collect pieces of volcanic rock that had rained down.
"Later we will sell these to these same gringo" tourists, she said.
After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since.
About 3,700 people were ordered to evacuate the volcano's slopes in July after a sharp spike in the eruptive force, but many later returned.
Geophysics Institute Director Hugo Yepes said this eruption intensified over a 19-hour period before ending sometime between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. local time (0700-0800 GMT) on Thursday.
While the volcano appeared to be in "state of total calm," he added that the prospect of more destructive eruptions could not be ruled out.
Volcano in Ecuador already cost a life
The Tungurahua volcano exploded overnight, raining ash for miles and sending molten rock flowing down its slopes for hours. The fiery mountain was still unleashing a blast of gas and ash Thursday that reached 5 miles into the sky.
At least a dozen villages on the volcano's western slopes were seriously damaged or destroyed — televised images showed just the tops of electricity poles jutting out from the smoldering pyroclastic flow that smothered 107 homes in the village of Juibe Grande, on the volcano's northwest slope. Authorities said that village's 600 residents escaped in time.
They were less sure about the many holdouts who refused to answer evacuation orders Wednesday in three hamlets high on the slopes of the 16,575-foot volcano, which is some 85 miles south of the capital of Quito.
"This is an indescribable catastrophe. The houses have collapsed. The rocks that fell caused injuries and burns," said Juan Salazar, mayor of Penipe, one of the villages.
In the village of Palitagua, roofs were pocked and perforated by flaming rocks, and there was heavy damage to the villages of Bilbao and Penipe. Chilibu, Choglontuz and Palitagua "no longer exist — everything is wiped out," Salazar said.
Rescuers recovered one body in Penipe and four others were believed trapped under the rubble. "There are 60 other people who are on the high flanks of the volcano whom we could not get to this morning," he said.
The pyroclastic flow — superheated material that shoots down the sides of volcanos like a fiery avalanche at up to 190 mph — damaged access roads and blocked three rivers, the Patate, Puela and Chambo.
That forced the shutdown of the nearby Agoyan hydroelectric plant, denying power to all or part of four jungle provinces, said Alejandro Ribadeneira, president of Ecuador's National Electrification Council. The electricity loss is particularly troublesome since Ecuador is suffering a serious energy crunch due to prolonged drought.
The ash cloud reached almost all the way from the Andes to the Pacific, forcing flights from Quito to Ecuador's largest city of Guayaquil to be suspended due to poor visibility, said Quito's airport chief, Rene Estrella.
Authorities had ordered the evacuation of a dozen hamlets on the volcano's slopes, and Ecuador's Civil Defense said about 4,500 people were able to escape the rivers of fire — a horrific sight to villagers in the middle of the frigid Andean night.
But a doctor said about 50 people from Penipe were treated for burns caused by "lava flows and incandescent rocks that burned them as they tried to flee."
"They were also burned by vapor and the elevated heat in the zone. It was a scene of chaos, a Dantesque situation," Dr. Hernan Ayala told Ecuador's Channel 4 from a medical center in Riobamba, where many of the victims were taken. "There are six whom we consider the most grave, one of them with burns over 85% of the body."
President Alfredo Palacio said the government had released $2 million to help people displaced by the eruption.
Col. Robert Rodriguez, deputy director of Ecuador's Civil Defense, said more than half the residents of Banos — a popular tourist city of 18,000 at the northeast foot of the volcano — had evacuated, many fleeing before dawn as the ash rained down.
By daylight, Banos was covered in a thick brown soup, its houses, cars and roads smothered, its trees ripped bare.
After remaining dormant for eight decades, Tungurahua rumbled back to life in 1999 and has been active ever since, registering booming explosions in May that shattered windows in outlying communities. About 3,700 people living on the volcano's slopes were ordered to evacuate in July after a sharp spike in the eruptive force, but many later returned.
Geophysics Institute Director Hugo Yepes said this eruption ended sometime between 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. local time. He said the volcano is now in a "state of total calm," but couldn't rule out more destructive eruptions.
Thursday, August 17, 2006
Government helps refugees from Mayon's volcano
Mt. Mayon, an active volcano, has experienced continuous small-scale eruptions since early July, and about 43,000 people (about 9,200 households) living in the vicinity of the mountain have taken refuge. Continuing such volcanic activity will cause a great concern of increasing the number of evacuees as well as spreading infectious diseases and deteriorating sanitation.
Upon receiving the request made by the Government of the Philippines, the Government of Japan has made above decision of emergency assistance, in light of humanitarian viewpoint as well as friendly relations with the Republic of the Philippines.
The Azores...a unique volcanic experience!
The people of the Azores are friendly and resilient, with a fascinating history. Everytime hardship hits the islands, they find a way to adapt. This trait is evident today. For years travellers had to stop in the Azores — first, exploring ships had to stop to stock up on food and to catch winds to make it back to Europe, then with air travel, planes had to stop to refuel. Now that people don’t have to stop in the Azores, the Portuguese are making sure travellers will want to. Here are a few highlights from just two of the islands, Sao Miguel and Terceira.
• The landscape: At first look, these islands are beautifully quaint. There are green rolling hills, fields dotted with black and white cows, windmills and beautiful flowers. But below the surface it is explosive. Towns have been built on the top of volcanos and at Parque Terra Nostra, Sao Miguel, diners can have their meals cooked by the steam of the volcano. On Terceira, one can sunbath and swim among old lava flows at Ponta dos Biscoitos.
• The architecture: A marvelous mixture of styles that become distinctly Azores. In the countryside, think whitewashed, hillside buildings of Greece meet the green, stonewall-lined fields of Ireland. In the cities, the white-washed buildings are trimmed with black lava rock and the sidewalks use the same stone to create wonderful mosaics. In the Unesco World Heritage city of Angra Do Heroismo, Terceira, the streets are splashed with colour. The real gems of the Azores are the imperios, miniature churches mostly built in the 19th and early 20th century.
• Activities: There is a great variety of things to do here. Simply enjoy the beauty on a hike. Or in Ponta Delgada, try a whale watching tour. Or visit the only tea plantation and factory in Europe, Cha Gorreana, Sao Miguel. Or stop at a cheese factory and taste some fantastic local cheese. But my favourite activity was renting a car and exploring the island at a leisurely pace.
Mayon calmed down but villagers not out of danger yet
It added that 19 volcanic earthquakes and 367 tremor episodes were monitored in the 24-hour period."These earthquakes reflect the active ascent of magma within the volcano while the high tremor count reflects continuing extrusion of hot lava," the institute said in a statement.Although the activity reflected a decrease from an institute report Monday that recorded eight explosions in a 24-hour period, the number of earthquakes had risen from 16 and tremors were up from 322.
'Pyroclastic flows'"Recent measurements of ground deformation also indicated that the volcano is slightly inflated, probably as a result of continuing magma intrusions into the cone," the institute said.Nearly 44 000 people residing around Mayon have fled to evacuation centres since last week, and authorities said they might need to stay away from their homes for up to one month.
The institute said more "pyroclastic flows", or clouds of blistering gas and debris that travel at high speed and could incinerate anything in their path, could still occur in the coming days.It appealed to residents to stay clear of the 7km danger zone around the volcano and 8km in its south-east sector.Mayon Volcano, famous for its almost perfect cone, began to spew lava on July 15 in what volcanologists called a "quiet eruption" that attracted foreign and local tourists.
The 2 472m volcano has erupted about 50 times since 1616. It last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing about 50 000 people to evacuate but causing no casualties.Its most violent eruption was in 1814 when more than 1 200 people were killed and a town was buried in volcanic mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.
Tuesday, August 15, 2006
Mayon's lava destroys some farmlands
Ed Laguerta of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Monday the affected farmlands cannot be used by the farmers for several years and that the government should provide alternative sources of income for the displaced villagers.
He said during a press briefing, "The implication is the farm lands hit by the lava flow could no longer be used for a long time. Many of the coconut groves were also really badly burned."
Scientists also warned the volcano is gearing up for a major eruption and has entered its most dangerous phase of the eruption.
Lava flowed down from the mouth of the 2,462-meter (8,077-ft) since July 14 and has traveled some 4 miles which covered once-fertile agricultural lands under 10 to 15 meters of molten rock and debris. It will take years for the lava to cool into a hard stone cover, Laguerta said.
An estimated 60,000 villagers living near the 4-mile permanent danger zone particularly those living at the foot of the volcano have been evacuated in temporary shelters mostly schools converted as refugee centers.
Mayon is one of the most active among the 22 active volcanos in the Philippines. In 1993, 75 people were killed when it suddenly erupted. But its most violent eruption was recorded in 1814 when some 1,200 villagers where killed, most of whom sought refuge in a church that was buried by volcanic debris in the town of Cagsawa.
Only the bell tower of the church can be seen today.
Mayon let go deadly gases
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said on Monday afternoon that the peak in Albay province, 330 kilometres south-east of Manila, had generated eight mild explosions during the past 24 hours.
"Sixteen volcanic earthquakes, which indicate active magma ascent into the crater, and 322 tremor episodes associated with the collapse of fragments from the advancing lava flow were also recorded during this period," it said in a bulletin.
The institute warned that more "pyroclastic flows", or clouds of blistering gas and debris that travel at high speed and could incinerate anything in their path, would occur in the following days "due to progressing explosions".
It urged residents to stay clear out of the seven-kilometre danger zone around the volcano and eight kilometres on the south-east sector.
Close to 43 000 people residing around the volcano have fled to evacuation centres since last week.
Mayon Volcano, famous for its almost perfect cone, has been acting up since February and began to spew lava on July 15 in what volcanologists called a "quiet eruption" that attracted foreign and local tourists.
The 2 472-metre volcano has erupted about 50 times since 1616. It last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing about 50 000 people to evacuate but causing no casualties.
Its most violent eruption was in 1814 when more than 1 200 people were killed and a town was buried in volcanic mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.
Can volcanoes' music help predict eruptions?
They are now creating melodies from Ecuador's recently erupted Tungurahua.
By correlating the music with precise stages of volcanic activity on both volcanoes the team hope to learn the signature tune of an imminent eruption.
"If you can identify the musical patterns that warn of an eruption then you can implement civil protection measures, days or even hours before the event," said Professor Roberto Barbera of the University of Catania.
At the moment there is no definitive method to predict the eruption of a volcano.
Scientists monitor seismic waves, the number of earthquakes and the intensity of a specific type of quake known as harmonic tremors in the run up to eruptions.
Other researchers monitor the change in the shape of the volcano or concentrations of gases emitted from the cone.
It's like a musician playing a piano. You would never imagine it was a volcano playing the music.
Professor Roberto Barbera
This week, researchers in Italy also put forward a new technique, known as seismic tomography, which may help to monitor volcanic hazards in the future.
The method, reported in the journal Science, gives detailed snapshots of magma movements inside the volcano in a similar way to a medical CAT scan.
The technique has been used to show magma movement during Mount Etna's pre-eruptive and eruptive phases between 2001 and 2003.
The musical method, known as data sonification, adds a further tool to the vulcanologist's tool box.
Data sonification transforms complex data into audible sounds. It has previously been used to analyse astronomical data from the Shoemaker Levy comet collision with Jupiter.
The data sonification software used on Mount Etna was invented by Dr Domenico Vicinanza at the Italian National Institute for Nuclear Physics. It transforms the inaudible seismic waves that travel through the Earth into music.
Researchers in Hawaii have previously listened for the sound signature of a pre-eruptive volcano using infrasound - low-frequency sound beyond the scope of the human ear.
The technique overlays seismograms with music notes
The Pacific team used the global infrasound network, a "listening system" that was originally intended to detect nuclear explosions to verify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The system put forward by the Italian researchers creates music audible to the human ear.
To create the volcanic score, the team take a seismogram - a graphical record of an earthquake that records the timing and intensity of seismic waves - and trace the peaks and troughs on to blank music bars.
They then overlay the contours with musical notes. A digital synthesiser can then play the score.
"It's like a musician playing a piano. You would never imagine it was a volcano playing the music," said Professor Barbera.
To look for tell tale signatures in the tunes the team use music pattern recognition software.
The software has previously been used to analyse symphonies by Mozart to look for similarities between different compositions and to detect copyright fraud.
The project is now analysing the music of volcanoes in Latin America
Because there is a huge amount of data to crunch the team distribute the data on a grid network.
Grid computing uses a distributed approach to solving one problem. The processing power of hundreds of computers are tapped, vastly cutting down on the time it takes to get a result.
"You can send data to France, Argentina, Mexico and Italy and then merge the results," said Professor Barbera. "You can grab computing power wherever it is."
The team use the two grid networks run by the EU funded Enabling Grids for E-science (EGEE) and the E-Infrastructure shared between Europe and Latin America (EELA) projects.
So far the team have crunched several hours of music from Etna and have found some distinctive patterns. They are now expanding the analysis to Tungurahua in Ecuador to check whether the same tunes reoccur.
The Latin American project is still in its early stages but the team have big hopes for their technique.
"The volcanoes are completely different but from the musical point of view perhaps we can identify some similarities," added Professor Barbera.
Mayon volcano is a money maker for some people!
Printed on the posters were the word: "Visit Legazpi: Mayon Eruption 2006."
Legazpi City councilor Cerilo Chan was the brainchild of the poster after realizing the tourism potential of the volcano. He said he wants to exploit this year's eruption to bring some cash to the over 40,000 people evacuated since the volcano started acting up two weeks ago.
At least, people here will have income opportunities even as a major disaster looms ahead of them.
Local officials say since the volcano started emitting lava on July 15, the city saw an influx of both foreign and local tourists arrivals. Some of the tourists were even venturing near the lava flow to take pictures or record the phenomenon.
It was the increased tourist arrivals that prompted Chan to come out with the posters and distributed them at places where there were heavy concentration of people such as public places, airports, hotels and at tourism district in Manila.
He said, "I just noticed many foreigners were arriving. But that there were not enough people attending to them,"
He said he has received several inquiries. At least 120 employees of the Philippine Central Bank visited the city to watch Mayon put on a fireworks show at night, from a safe distance, of course.
Mt. Mayor is one of the major attractions in the Philippines because of its near-perfect cone shape and its history of eruptions.
Local officials say tourists can watch the eruption, which is best viewed at night, at the comfort of their hotel rooftops.
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Mayon enters danger phase
The burst of pyroclastic flow on Saturday marked the first time Mayon shot out fast-moving hot gas and rock fragments after weeks of showing signs of a major eruption, volcanologist Ed Laguerta said.
"This is really the dangerous phase,'' said Laguerta. "We're not worried much with lava flows because they're slow moving, but pyroclastic flows travel at such high velocity and could destroy almost everything in its path.''
Blistering gas and volcanic debris can travel at least 60 kilometers (37 miles) per hour, he said.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology predicted more pyroclastic flows in the next few days because of Mayon's continuing unrest and urged villagers not to venture into an extended danger zone around the volcano.
Government volcanologists have been saying 2,462-meter (8,077-foot) Mayon may be gearing up for an explosive eruption.
Authorities have ordered the mandatory evacuation of people within the volcano's danger zone, and nearly 45,000 people have been moved to 27 temporary shelters, mostly school buildings in Albay province, southeast of Manila.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Saturday visited villagers in shelters. She ordered officials to speed up efforts to improve conditions at overcrowded evacuation centers and ensure adequate stocks of food and medicine.
Mayon continued to show signs of restiveness on Sunday, emitting abnormally high levels of sulfuric dioxide and puffing ash at least six times. Volcanologists also say they continue to detect a high number of volcanic earthquakes, mostly unfelt by humans.
Mayon, a popular tourist attraction because of its nearly perfect conical shape, is one of the Philippines' 22 active volcanos. Its most violent eruption in 1814 killed more than 1,200 people, many of whom sought shelter in a church that was buried by lava in Cagsawa town.
People fear a major ash eruption from Mayon volcano
Unlike the trails of lava that have been slowly flowing down the volcano's slopes for weeks, so-called "pyroclastic flows" can cover a wide area very swiftly, moving at speeds of about 60kph"We want to give the volcano a wide berth," said Ernesto Corpuz, head of the volcano monitoring division of the Philippine Institute of Vulcanology and Seismology.An eruption at Mayon in 1993 killed 77 people who were caught unaware by the deadly clouds of ash and gases.The government has evacuated about 40 000 residents living in a 6km to 8km danger zone around the volcano, herding them into 24 overcrowded evacuation centres, most of them schools.
Many residents, however, still enter the danger zone to work on their farms, guard their belongings and attend to other personal matters.The full extent of the danger posed by the volcano is not readily apparent as its crater has largely been obscured by thick clouds for days, preventing the public from seeing the ash explosions.Philippine President Gloria Arroyo, who visited Mayon on Saturday, has promised more aid for the villagers including the delivery of prefabricated homes and tents, in a bid to ease overcrowding at the evacuation centres.
Some have been forced to sleep in rooms with as many as 50 other people, raising fears about the possibility that disease could spread.Despite the dangers of Mayon, busloads of evacuees could been seen leaving the centre in Legaspi City on Sunday to visit their homes in Bonga village, inside the danger zone, where people said they could hear a distant rumbling.Seventy-four-year old farmer Maximo Aydalla said he was in Bonga on Saturday when the ash explosions took place."I saw the smoke rise and then fall but we were still at a safe distance. If it was going our way, we would have run," he said.
Despite the danger, he returned to Bonga again on Sunday to pick up drinking water and firewood."It is a bit dangerous. I am not afraid because I keep an eye out," he said.There have been no recorded fatalities so far from either the volcano or from diseases at the evacuation centre.Relief officials said they were checking on television reports that one person had died of a heart attack.Mayon is the country's most-active volcano and past eruptions have led to more than 1 000 deaths.
Mayon volcano finally erupted
One of the explosions recorded late Friday was the largest since the volcano began belching out ashes and lava in mid July, the agency said.The Phivolcs also recorded 48 volcanic quakes "which signified lava ascent"."The sulphur dioxide emission remained high at 6 876 tons per day," the agency said.
Authorities have tightened security since Thursday and threatened to arrest stubborn residents and tourists who ignore warnings and enter prohibited areas near the volcano.President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo visited Saturday the nearly 40 000 people who have fled to dozens of evacuation centres amid fears of an eruption.
Mayon Volcano, famous for its almost perfect cone, has been acting up since February and began spewing lava on July 15 in what volcanologists called a "quiet eruption" that attracted foreign and local tourists.The 2 472m volcano has erupted about 50 times since 1616.
It last came to life in a series of eruptions in 2001, forcing about 50 000 people to evacuate but causing no casualties.Its most violent eruption was in 1814 when more than 1 200 people were killed and a town was buried in volcanic mud. An eruption in 1993 killed 79 people.
Full moon could influence Mayon's eruption
Volcanologists have warned that Mount Mayon, in the province of Albay, could explode at any time but the gravitational pull of a full moon could provide the final push.
"To put it in a simple way, it's like it massages a volcano," the head of monitoring and eruption prediction at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Ernesto Corpuz, told Reuters.
"When that volcano is ready to erupt it could trigger the eruption."
A full moon coincided with at least three of Mayon's near 50 explosions, including the two most recent in 2000 and 2001, Corpuz said.
Nearly 40,000 people have been evacuated from an 8-km (5 mile) danger zone on the southeast flank of the volcano, which has been quaking and spitting plumes of ash since July, a member of the provincial disaster council said.
But some people have yet to leave their livestock and vegetable plots despite an encroaching four-storey-high wall of scalding lava that has streamed more than 6 km (4 miles) from Mayon's crater.
"I'll leave tonight because of the full moon. My wife and five kids are already gone," said Ambrosio Baranquil, a 41 year old farmer, whose village is 3 kms from the foot of the mountain.
In schoolhouses, crowded with families who have fled their homes, locals swapped tales of Mayon's previous blasts.
"I've witnessed six eruptions, the first in 1928 and the strongest in 1968 when rocks as big as houses came tumbling down," said Isabel Lodana, an 84-year old grandmother.
The 2,462-metre-high (8,077 feet) mountain is the most active volcano in the Philippines and during its most destructive eruption in 1841 buried a town and killed 1,200 people.
President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has said she is confident there will be no casualties if Mayon blows.
The Philippines, which sits on a seismically active stretch of the Pacific Ocean, known as the "Ring of Fire", is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and flooding caused by tropical storms.
Getting to know volcanoes, in and out!
In medicine, CT scanning uses x-rays to create detailed 3-dimensional pictures of the human body. The x-rays pass through porous material such as lung tissue more easily than through denser stuff such as bones.
CT scanning a volcano applies the same idea, but instead of using x-rays to judge density, geophysicists use waves from earthquakes. Earthquakes generate two kinds of waves: pressure waves, which alternately compress and stretch the rock they pass through, and shear waves, which stress the rock up and down. Pressure waves slow down as they travel through less-dense rock, so researchers can track the density of the rock by comparing the relative speed of pressure and shear waves. If the ratio drops, the density of the rock has probably dropped, too.
In today's issue of Science, Domenico Patane and colleagues at the National Institute for Geophysics and Volcanology in Italy illustrate the first attempt to CT scan a volcano before, during, and after an eruption. They used an extensive network of seismographs to listen for earthquakes around Mount Etna. After two and a half years of tracking, Mount Etna erupted.
Following the eruption, the researchers divided the data into three periods: long before the eruption, just before, and then during and shortly after; they then plotted their interpretation of the density variations within the volcano for each time period. The finest details resolved by the images are a kilometer in size, so no one is claiming they can see fingers of magma rising; instead, the density differences probably correspond to rock cracking and filling up with volcanic gas as magma rises nearby.
The technique is winning fans. "I'm impressed," says Steve Malone, a seismologist at the University of Washington in Seattle. Still, he cautions that there's a long way to go before this can be used for real-time volcano monitoring. Few volcanoes are as well monitored as Etna, and the most dramatic changes in the images happened when the eruption was already underway. "But it's certainly the type of thing to shoot for."
Kilauea volcano has lava flows into ocean
Video taken on Thursday shows molten rock slithering down cliffs and oozing into the sea, unleashing clouds of steam as the lava hits the ocean.
Jim Kauahikaua is the scientist-in-charge at the U.S. Geological Survey's Hawaiian Volcano Observatory. He said the 2,000-degree Fahrenheit lava boils the sea water on contact. The ocean, meanwhile, freezes the lava and turns it into sand-like chunks that form a base for new land.
Similar eruptions over several million years gave birth to all the Hawaiian Islands.
The latest Kilauea ocean entry point developed the night of Aug. 3 when lava from the Campout flow hit the sea at East Kailiili.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Italian volcano to be studied by CT Scan
Using imaging methods similar to those employed in medical CT scans, researchers tracked the flow of magma in Italy's Mount Etna, which towers nearly 11,000 feet (3,350 meters) above the island of Sicily.
The scan, which detected areas rich in gases that produce explosive eruptions, may become a powerful tool for eruption prediction.
Scientists used 45 seismic stations positioned on the slopes of Etna to take measurements of the intermittently active volcano.
These seismic stations recorded more than 2,500 earthquakes during an 18-month interval that included one unusually violent eruption in 2002.
The seismic waves from such earthquakes can be used to produce detailed three-dimensional images of a volcano's interior, seismologist Domenico Patanè of Italy's National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology in Catania said in an email.
Patanè is lead author of a study that used the quake readings to make before-and-after maps during the 18-month period. The research will appear in tomorrow's issue of the journal Science.
The maps show the mountain's interior down to depths of three miles (five kilometers).
Such maps can be made, Patanè says, by comparing the speed with which seismic waves reach each of the stations. Different speeds mean waves are traveling through different types of rock.
This imaging technique had never before been applied to an erupting volcano.
The method allowed scientists to spot the appearance of zones where seismic waves moved unusually slowly.
These "slow" zones, the scientists say, indicate the arrival of a new batch of magma beneath the mountain. This magma is rich in carbon dioxide gas, which produces explosive eruptions.
In essence, says Gillian Foulger of Britain's Durham University, the scientists were watching a movie of the magma moving into the volcano and up to the surface.
"They only have two snapshots," she said, "but we're moving toward a situation where we can have many snapshots that show us the progress."
In an accompanying comment in Science, Foulger calls the Italians' work an important step toward the technology presented in the 2005 Discovery Channel movie Supervolcano. In the film, scientists of the future could track magma movements and issue warnings to people likely to be in harm's way.
Study co-author Patanè agrees. "This discovery will potentially offer a powerful tool of integrated surveillance for forecasting eruptions in the middle and short term, in particular those of highly explosive nature," he said.
This type of intensive seismological mapping can also be used to study other types of subterranean features.
Foulger, for example, has used a similar method to track the effect of geothermal power generation on underground steam reservoirs at The Geysers hydrothermal site in northern California.
The results indicated that excessive power generation was depleting the underground steam, leading to changes in how the power plants are operated.
In another study, her team made a detailed seismic survey of California's Mammoth Mountain, a popular ski area that sits in a zone of restless volcanism.
At the time, there had been many small earthquakes, "suggesting that we might be building up for an eruption sometime in the future," she said.
"There was no eruption, but carbon dioxide started pouring out of the mountain at an enormous rate, killing off the forests."
She and her colleagues conducted an eight-year study there, observing how carbon dioxide gas appeared to have accumulated in some places while moving out of others.
This is useful, she says, because the movement of gases and water affects how explosive an eruption will be if one occurs.
Foulger dreams of a future in which all potentially dangerous volcanoes will be outfitted with networks of seismometers similar to the ones that allowed Patanè's research group to watch lava movements beneath Etna.
"We have the technologies, but there is often a huge reluctance to implement them until too late," she said.
"The Italian paper is very helpful, because it's a step forward in showing what is possible.
Politicians and people in communities that are potentially in danger from active volcanoes should take note," she added.
"Maybe we can consider implementing it before an eruption rather than after."