The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level status of Mayon Volcano to Alert Level 2 on Monday.
“DOST-Phivolcs is raising the Alert Level of Mayon Volcano from Alert Level 1 (abnormal) to Alert Level 2 (increasing unrest). This means that there is current unrest driven by shallow magmatic processes that could eventually lead to phreatic eruptions or even precede hazardous magmatic eruption,” Phivolcs said in a statement.
Phivolcs said that rockfall events have increased in frequency from a daily average of five. From 5 a.m. of June 4 to 5 a.m. of the next day, there were 49 rockfall events.
As of April 1, 2023, 318 rockfall events have been recorded by Phivolcs, while 26 volcanic earthquakes have been registered in the same period.
Additionally, as of May 9, 2023, the lava dome has increased in volume by about 83,000 cubic meters since Feb. 3, 2023, and a total of 164,000 cubic meters since August 2022.
Meanwhile, the last sulfur dioxide emission measurement was on May 23, 2023, at 162 tons per day, while the highest was tallied on April 29, at 576 tons per day.
“These low-level volcanic earthquakes, ground deformation, and volcanic gas parameters are overshadowed by recent steep increases in rockfall events, which may possibly lead to further dome activity,” Phivolcs said.
Phivolcs urged the public to be vigilant and avoid going near the six-kilometer-radius permanent danger zone to minimize risks from sudden explosions, rockfall, and landslides.
In case of ash fall, people were advised to cover their noses and mouth with a damp, clean cloth, or a dust mask.
Civil aviation authorities were asked to tell their pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from any sudden eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.
The Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines on Monday issued a notice to airmen advising them to avoid flying near Mayon and Taal volcanoes.
CAAP chief information officer Eric Apolonio said the agency issued the notice due to increasing unrest in two volcanoes.
“With Mayon Volcano now on Alert Level 2 and Taal Volcano on Alert Level 1, flights have been prohibited to operate 10,000 feet from the surface and advised to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ash from the sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft,” Apolonio said.
Since 10:30 p.m. Saturday, the visible upwelling of volcanic fluids in the Main Crater Lake produced voluminous steam-rich plumes that rose to 3,000 meters above Taal Volcano Island.
On Monday, Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary Rex Gatchalian on directed the field offices (FOs) in the Southern Tagalog and Bicol regions to prepare amid volcanic unrest recorded both in the Taal and Mayon volcanoes.
“The concerned regional field offices have been directed to stockpile their family food packs and ensure that they have sufficient standby funds as part of the preparation for both the Taal and Mayon volcanic unrest,” Gatchalian said in a statement.
He specifically ordered the regional directors of DSWD FO 4-A (Calabarzon) and FO 5 (Bicol) to get the “historic data” in their respective regions to include the number of families affected, the number of municipalities affected, and the duration of the volcanic unrest.
“The historic data will be very helpful in determining the approximate number of FFPs that need to be stockpiled. It is very important to closely monitor the activities of the Taal and Mayon and updates be sent in real-time,” he told the regional directors.