Mayon residents turn to natural signs before big bang

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LEGAZPI CITY, Albay: For residents near Mount Mayon, the lull of the world’s most perfectly-formed volcano could be a prelude to a big bang.

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Demetriu Apuyan, an 80-year-old resident of Bonga village, some eight kilometers away from the volcano’s crater, recalled how his youngest son, Alden, was roasted alive when Mount Mayon erupted in 1993. He is closely monitoring the behavior of the volcano, turning to natural signs of what to expect.

Demetriu witnessed Mayon’s eruptions in 1958, 1968, 1978, 1984, 1993, 2000, 2001, 2006 and 2009 and he observed that the volcano is showing an alarming behavior similar to what happened in 1968 and 1984.

He said the round-the-clock tremors and continuous rumbling sounds beneath the earth reverberating in the wilderness for several weeks now is similar to 1968 and 1984 eruptions.

“We’re bothered with the recent abnormalities of Daragang Magayon [Mount Mayon] because she is very angry. The plants and even the forest at the slope of the volcano are dying. The wells are drying up and the animals living in her belly are either found dead on the slope or have abandoned their habitat. These are the natural signs we’re observing for explosive eruption of Magayon,” Demetriu told The Manila Times.

Demetriu, who was digging gravel and sand at the Bonga River channel when interviewed by this reporter, said the city government has not enforced the evacuation of those living in the eight-kilometer radius so he will continue to work.

Like Demetriu, 33-year-old Annaliza Alaurin is also looking for natural signs. She and her six children are currently staying in a tent donated by an American donor and she feared that the volcano’s irregular activity means something.

While Mayon residents observed the volcano naturally, scientists monitors Mayon’s restiveness in geophysical, geodetic and geochemical aspects.

The geophysical aspect deals on the physical condition of the volcano, the geodetic aspect refers to the inflation based on the ground deformation survey while the geochemical behavior is dependent on the sulphur dioxide emission of Mayon.

Ed Laguerta, Phivolcs senior resident volcanologist chief in Bicol, said Mayon’s lull is dangerous as this is the calm before the storm behavior of the volcano.

“The way it behaves right now is similar to what happened during the l984 eruption. It was a vulcanian type of eruption, meaning, the eruption was associated with pyroclastic flow. In 1984, Mayon rested for two weeks before the big eruption on September 23, wherein three consecutive big eruptions occurred that reverberated in all corners of Albay province,” Laguerta explained.

He said the explosions caused the emission of a 14-kilometer ash column and the collapse of a portion of the summit which fell at the southeast portion of Mayon.

After the collapse of the southeast portion of the volcano’s summit in 1984, it healed after nine years and its perfect cone shape returned in l993, he said.

A lava dome as high as a four-story building developed at the Mayon summit after the May 7, 2013 phreatic explosion that killed four foreigners and a Filipino tour guide and produced at least 560 million cubic meter volcanic materials.

Laguerta said the gravitational pull due to full moon and lunar eclipse phenomenon in October 8 may trigger the eruption of an abnormal volcano.

He said a study showed that during full moon, the moon is nearer to the Earth and the Earth tide phenomenon could affect and trigger the eruption of volcanoes in restive condition like Mount Mayon.

“Full moon can influence Mayon due to gravitational pull but the earth tide max could also affect because the volcano is just few kilometers from the coast of Legazpi. The earth tide is just like the high tide phenomenon, happens whenever the earth exerts the strongest gravitational pull on the moon since the two heavenly bodies are nearest to each other during a full moon period,” Laguerta said.

“The earth tide phenomenon though not 100 percent reliable in predicting eruption could be considered as a critical factor to spark off an eruption for a volcano that is ready to explode,” Laguerta said.

Currently, 34 volcanoes around the world are in the eruptive stage and Mayon Volcano is one of them.

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