Phivolcs plans to downscale alert levels in Mayon, Bulusan

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

Mayon Volcano in January 2018 (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 20) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said it is looking to downscale the alert levels for the Mayon and Bulusan volcanoes as the threat of strong eruptions may have waned.

Mariton Bornas, chief of Phivolcs' Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division, said Monday that state volcanologists were about to propose downgrading the alert level 2 hoisted over Mayon volcano and alert level 1 on Mount Bulusan last week.

"Ito pong mga bulkan na ito ay actually irerekomenda na ibaba ang alert noong nakaraang Lunes, kaya lang po ay naunahan tayo ng pagputok ng Taal [We were supposed to recommend downgrading the alert on these two volcanoes last Monday, but we had to focus on Taal's sudden eruption first]," Bornas said in a media briefing.

Phivolcs had to swiftly raise the alert level for Taal volcano last January 12 after it erupted a tall column of ash and steam, blanketing towns in Batangas and Cavite with ashfall. Residents within the 14-kilometer radius from the main crater have been told to evacuate.

Mount Mayon has been on alert level 2 since March 2018, with Phivolcs denying recent claims on social media that the volcano just had the alert level raised and is now on the verge of erupting. Alert level 2 meant there is "increasing unrest" in the Mayon volcano, with increasing sulfur emissions, a faint or intermittent crater glow, and a decrease in water flow to wells and springs. Scaling down the threat to alert level 1 would indicate that there will be no "imminent" eruption.

TIMELINE: The Mayon eruption

Meanwhile, Bulusan has been on alert level 1 since May 2019. This meant that there is an "abnormal state" of unrest, observed through slight increase in volcanic earthquakes or steam and gas, sporadic explosions from vents, hotter springs, and a swelling in its edifice.

Bulusan last erupted in June 2017, while Mayon was last seen spewing lava in January 2018.

Bornas said the plan to reduce the threat level for the two volcanoes in the Bicol region will take effect once Phivolcs reaches a consensus and issues a bulletin.

The highest level is alert level 5, which incidates that a hazardous eruption is in progress. The lowest is alert level 0 when a volcano is quiet.

She added that authorities are conducting 24/7 monitoring on 10 volcanoes in the country. Apart from Mayon, Bulusan and Taal, authorities are closely watching activity in Mount Pinatubo; Kanlaon in Negros Oriental; Hibok-Hibok in Camiguin; Matutum and Parker in Mindanao; Iriga and Isarog in Camarines Sur. Phivolcs also mounted an auxiliary monitoring of Mount Apo in Davao following a series of earthquakes that rocked Mindanao late last year, Bornas said.

Taal remains on alert level 4 as of Monday morning. Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum earlier said that authorities would still have to assess trends in the volcano's activity for at least two weeks to determine whether Taal is entering a lull before it can downgrade the alert level.