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Guest Thinkers

Mayon Update for 12/28/2009

Despite a brief “lull”, the danger posed by Mayon in the Philippines is still very real – which isn’t stopping residents and even tourists from braving the evacuation zones.

Lava flows from Mayon, taken December 23, 2009.

Volcano news over the holidays this year is still focused on Mayon in the Philippines. We’re reaching almost a month since the volcano starting showing signs of a major eruption, but no “big one” yet. Lava flows, ash and block-and-ash flows are continuing to be issued from the new dome at the summit, but earthquakes are down some – which is leading to the problem that people are thinking the volcano is “safe”. Many evacuees are returning home already, even with the threat-level at Mayon is unchanged.

This danger of people losing faith/not believing the volcano monitoring scientists is a constant concern with the volcano doesn’t “behave as predicted”. The balance between the economic/social reality of leaving one’s home and the perceived danger of the volcano is difficult to strike – and many people will not think they are in real danger until, well, they are in real danger.

Of course, these questions are no excuse for tourists who try to enter the danger zone of a volcano. One thing the Philippine government shouldn’t have to spend time and money on right now is keeping tourists out of a hazardous situation. For a less dangerous view of the volcano, check out this series of images from the December 2009 activity as well – the lava flowing down the flank from the summit with flow levees and the darker, cooled crust in the first image is especially impressive. Philippine authorities have also designated the area around Mayon a “no fly zone” due to the potential volcanic hazard.


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