Mayon volcano, located in the Philippines, has been exhibiting increased volcanic activity, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). In the past 24 hours, the number of rockfall events at the volcano has more than doubled, reaching a total of 199. Between June 7 and 8 alone, 98 rockfalls were recorded. Additionally, Phivolcs reported six pyroclastic density currents, lasting for four to five minutes, which resulted in the deposition of lava debris in the southern gullies within a two-kilometer radius from the volcano’s crater.
Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol stated that on Thursday night, a “crater glow” was observed at Mayon volcano. This phenomenon indicates the presence of superheated gas emanating from the crater, producing a glow. Bacolcol expressed hope that the current unrest at the volcano would not escalate into a full eruption, resembling the volcanic activity observed in 2014, which primarily involved rockfall events and lava flow without a magmatic eruption. In contrast, the eruption in 2018 was more severe and explosive.
Bacolcol highlighted that sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions at Mayon volcano have been relatively lower, averaging 332 metric tons per day as of June 7, compared to the typical 500 metric tons. There were no volcanic earthquakes recorded on June 8, with only two earthquakes detected since June 5. These factors indicate that the volcano may not experience a full eruption similar to 2018.
However, Bacolcol emphasized the unpredictability of volcanic activity, stating that despite the current observations, anything could still happen. Consequently, Phivolcs continues to closely monitor Mayon volcano.
As a precautionary measure, Phivolcs has advised the evacuation of all residents within the volcano’s six-kilometer permanent danger zone. The agency cited the potential hazards of pyroclastic density currents, rockfall, lava flow, and possible eruption as reasons for the evacuation. The provincial government of Albay has already issued a mandatory evacuation order for over 18,000 residents residing within the permanent danger zone. Evacuation efforts are scheduled to commence in the towns of Daraga, Malilipot, and Camalig, as well as the cities of Ligao and Tabaco, starting Friday morning.
Furthermore, the provincial government has prohibited all human activities within the danger zone and halted quarrying operations within a seven-kilometer radius of the volcano.
Phivolcs raised the alert level for Mayon volcano to Alert Level 3 on Thursday, indicating the potential for explosive activity within the coming days or weeks. The situation remains closely monitored, and updates will be provided as the volcanic activity progresses.