Mayon surveillance heightened, Alert Level 2 still up

MANILA, Philippines – Mayon Volcano remains on Alert Level 2 as government scientists and local officials increase their monitoring of the active volcano in Albay.

"No significant change in the condiiton of Mayon. Alert Level Status is maintained at 2," Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Renato Solidum told Rappler in a text message Monday, August 18.

Phivolcs raised the alert level of the volcano from 1 to 2 on Friday, August 15 after spotting a newly formed lava dome some 30 to 50 meters high.

This indicates that something is pushing the lava outwards from inside the volcano. Phivolcs scientists say this is most likely magma. It is also pressure from magma that is increasing gas emissions from the crater.

Before the growth of the dome, Phivolcs scientists had already been observing very slight swelling in the mid-slopes of the mountain.

Alert Level 2 means that no one should enter the 6-kilometer-radius Permanent Danger Zone due to the possibility of sudden explosions, rockfalls and landslides.

The Alert Level will be raised to 3 if Phivolcs detects volcanic earthquakes, accelerated growth in the lava dome and rockfalls, said Solidum.

Alert Level 3 and 4 means forced evacuation of locals living around the volcano. The Alert Level is raised to 5 when there is already hazardous eruption.

Solidum gave assurances that Phivolcs and local officials continue to closely monitor the volcano for any developments. – Pia Ranada/Rappler.com