"..a bardy view!"

Mount Mayon erupts – with fatal consequences………

"Mayon volcano is an enigmatic personality. The more she
does this, the more they will come. The more the danger, the more the

So says Albay Governor Joey Salceda, after Mount Mayon gave a 73-second explosion killing five climbers on 7th May 2013.

MayonThe state seismologist said the explosion was triggered when the
rainwater made contact with hot ash deposits on the crater mouth. That makes
sense - a bit like adding water to a sizzling frying pan.

It's rather unfortunate that Governor Salceda couldn't have
chosen his words more appropriately. eg "This is a terrible tragedy. My
sympathies go out to the victims and their families. We will do everything to
learn from this, and investigate how this appalling accident occurred."
– it's a stock response, in the files of
every person in a high position of public service – but not in Salceda's. No, to him it
will bring more tourists. If that’s not what he meant it’s certainly how it

Continue reading

May 8, 2013 Posted by | Conservation, Current Affairs, Education, History, Mount Mayon Volcano, Politics, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Volcano Live and the BBC…..

MayonI was watching "Volcano Live" on the BBC the other day.

Of the two presenters – one – the somewhat vacuous OMG Kate Humble and the other some twit who vigorously masticates every vowel before spitting them out and holding out his hands to catch them (I know he's a twit because he presented a documentary a few months ago about geology etc and he thought that Mount Mayon was Mount Pinatubo), and a question from a viewer asked if it was OK to take lava from Mount Vesuvius.

Mr Twit replied that it was illegal to take stuff from Mount Vesuvius. He obviously hasn't been there recently, because there is a veritable army of stalls flogging stuff off the mountain. If it was illegal, then surely they would be banned? Then again – It's Italy you know!

Continue reading

July 14, 2012 Posted by | Books, Culture, Current Affairs, Education, Europe, Events, General, History, Humour, Italy, London, Mount Mayon Volcano, Science, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Mount Mayon Volcano Level 4 – Bahala Na?

The Mayon Volcano alert level has been raised to 4, which means an eruption is expected within days. Mayon lava

This magnificent volcano, a subject often referred to here, is a jewel in the Philippines crown. If it had a gender then it would be a femme fatale – beautiful, mysterious, alluring, passionate and very, very dangerous.

But romantic notions aside, she has the power to destroy, and at the moment she is particularly bad tempered. Thousands of people have been evacuated within a six mile radius, whose Christmas must be severely disrupted. At present Mayon is emitting ash over a mile high, and at night lava can be seen incandescently dripping from her summit.

She is notoriously fickle, and her alert levels have simmered between 1 and 2 over the past six months. Now it's reached critical and Philvocs are preparing for the worst.

For the sake of all those who have homes and livelihoods nearby, it can only be hoped that she will settle down. The Philippines have suffered some severe natural disasters lately, with two back to back typhoons creating flooding and crippling the infrastructure, especially in and around the capital.

As well as causing death and destruction, these events are a major drain on the country's financial resources, and it is a credit to their resilience and fortitude that they meet each one with strength and courage.

There's a concept amongst Filipinos called Bahala Na. Roughly translated it means "God's will" or "leave it to God". Not unlike Que Sera Sera – whatever will be will be – but with more divine connotations. Whilst some critics decry it as passive and fatalist, most believe that it is this philosophical approach which defines their character and morale and supports them through crises and insurmountable trials.

Whatever the reasoning, they are a people who are often visited with problems be they natural or man-made, so if "Bahala Na" helps them get through adversity then it must only be a positive thing and we should admire and respect them for it.

December 20, 2009 Posted by | Conservation, Culture, Mount Mayon Volcano, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mayon Pays Tribute to the Fallen

Regular readers will know that the Mount Mayon Volcano is a regular subject here. This week  she rumbled once again, with ash rising to over 1000 meters. Whilst the current alert level remains at Level 2, locals are warned to prepare for evacuation if things get worse. Mayonerupts

Around the same time an earthquake measuring 4.8 on the Richter scale occurred shaking Agusan del Norte, further south in Mindanao. Whilst the two are unlikely related, it highlights the volatility gendered by the country's position on the Pacific Rim of Fire, and even small earthquakes can trigger volcanic activity and vice versa.

However, it also demonstrates Mayon's growing unrest, and over recent months there has been substantial cause for concern. This was the most powerful explosion since July.

When Phivolcs (the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology) were asked if the alert should be raised to Level 3, they replied "Wala pa po" (not yet).

Magna is very close to the crater now, and if the unrest continues an eruption is likely within weeks.

I've always regarded this volcano as a living entity, a romantic view perhaps, but anyone who has stood beneath her cannot but be moved by the awe-inspiring presence.

Mount Mayon is without doubt the most perfectly formed volcano in the world. Although many argue that Mount Fuji should hold that title, Fuji is not as accessible, and the cone is not as perfect.

This new activity occurred as the world was remembering when the guns fell silent on the 11th November, 1918 and the First World War ended. Cannons resounded to mark that day. I'd like to thing that Mayon was marking it with her own unique and personal contribution.

A superb tribute, and as the only volcanic eruption in the world at the time, who knows if it's resonance was more than coincidence?

For those interested, here are the Philvocs alert levels for Mayon and other volcanoes:

Level 1: Abnormal, Low level unrest; Slight increase in seismicity. Slight increase in SO2 gas output above the background level, very faint glow of the crater may occur but no conclusive evidence of magma ascent, phreatic explosion or ash puffs may occur. No eruption imminent. Activity may be hydrothermal, magmatic or tectonic in origin. No entry in the 6-km radius PDZ.

Level 2: Increasing unrest, moderate unrest. Low to moderate level of seismic activity, episodes of harmonic tremor, increasing SO2 flux, faint/intermittent crater glow. Swelling of edifice may be detected. Confirmed reports of decrease in flow of wells and springs during rainy season. Unrest probably of magmatic origin; could eventually lead to eruption. The 6-km radius Danger Zone may be extended to 7 km in the sector where the crater rim is low.

Level 3: Increased Tendency Towards Eruption, relatively high unrest. Volcanic quakes and tremor may become more frequent, further increase in SO2 flux, occurrence of rockfalls in summit area, vigorous steaming/sustained crater glow, persistent swelling of edifice. Magma is close to the crater. If trend is one of increasing unrest, eruption is possible within weeks. Extension of Danger Zone in the sector where the crater rim is low will be considered.

Level 4: Hazardous Eruption Imminent, intense unrest. Persistent tremor, many “low frequency"-type earthquakes, SO2 emission level may show sustained increase or abrupt decrease. Intense crater glow, incandescent lava fragments in the summit area, hazardous eruption is possible within days. Extension of Danger zone to 8 km or more in the sector where the crater rim is low will be recommended.

Level 5: Hazardous Eruption Ongoing. Occurrence of pyroclastic flows, tall eruption columns and extensive ash fall. Pyroclastic flows may sweep down along gullies and channels, especially along those fronting the low part(s) of the crater rim. Additional danger areas may be identified as eruption progresses. Danger to aircraft, by way of ash cloud encounter, depending on height of eruption column and/or wind drift.

November 12, 2009 Posted by | Mount Mayon Volcano, The Philippines | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mount Mayon stirs from Slumber….

Mount Mayon, the worlds most perfectly formed volcano is showing signs of activity. I’ve been fortunate to encounter this world wonder, and experience the sheer awe-inspiring grandeur by standing under her slopes – the last time as recently as eighteen months ago.

Then it was just one year after typhoon Reming had caused landslides killing over 700 people and flattening neighbouring villages with a lahar which had formed from an eruption the previous year.  Mayon port

At over 8000ft high she is the Philippines most active volcano and has erupted 47 times in the last 400 years. She sleeps little but dozes often.

The most devastating event was on February 1st, 1814 when the village of Cagsawa was completely buried along with more than 1000 men, women and children.

They sought refuge in the church, and the only thing standing today is it’s bell tower. The 2007 typhoon buried the village again. Once again, the tower survived! (In my pic below Mayon in the background is shrouded in cloud).

The current alert level is 2, and if it increases, over 7000 people, now on standby, will have to be evacuated. The beauty and overwhelming presence which Mayon exudes is difficult to express in words. There is an incredible sense of nature’s power and she dominates everything around her.All pics from oct 2007 235

No matter how violent she can be, people return continually to her fertile slopes.

Farmers are reluctant to abandon her for it would mean abandoning their livelihoods also.

The nearest city, less than five miles away, is Legazpi, a hustling, bustling place whose port nestles in the shadow of the volcano.

Driving there from Manila is an arduous 10 hour journey. It’s possible to take a  flight to Legazpi to see the volcano, without actually entering the city.

This is preferable unless you’re planning on sailing across the Albay Gulf or heading off to Donsol to see the whale sharks, as the city itself is a hotch-potch of uncoordinated, uncontrolled and shabby town planning – although for shoppers there are some huge malls to satisfy addictive consumer cravings which seems at odds with the general downtrodden state of the place.

These regular eruptions and typhoons force the south-east Luzon provincial government of Albay in the Bicol region to struggle with maintaining infrastructure, which no doubt accounts for Legazpi City’s seeming lack of investment and run down appearance.

July 12, 2009 Posted by | Mount Mayon Volcano, The Philippines, Travel | Leave a comment


%d bloggers like this: