By Noreen Jazul and Alex San Juan
Two 150 watt solar panels were stolen from the Mayon Resthouse (VMRH) station, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported Thursday.
The Mayon Resthouse station hosts instruments for earthquake monitoring, Global Positioning System (GPS), and tiltmeter.
The solar panels were discovered missing by a Mayon Volcano Observatory personnel during a “routine inspection and preventive maintenance service,” on February 5.
Phivolcs said the loss of the equipment will affect the monitoring of Mayon Volcano, which is at Alert Level 2, a “moderate level of unrest.”
“With loss of power supply, no data will be transmitted from this station,” Phivolcs said.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) recently alerted the public after a “crater glow” was observed in Mayon Volcano.
The agency warned the public that those caught stealing “government risk reduction and preparedness equipment, accessories and similar facilities,” will be penalized under Republic Act 10344 (Risk Reduction and Preparedness Equipment Protection Act of 2012).
“The public is strongly encouraged to help in taking care of our monitoring instruments and to promptly report any untoward incidents,” Phivolcs said.
Phivolcs said that a crater glow was observed on Wednesday at the summit crater of Mayon in the past two days which is likely caused by “hot magmatic gases heating the overlying atmosphere.”
This phenomenon, according to Phivolcs, indicates that remnant magma from its last explosion in 2018 “may be quietly rising to the shallow levels of the edifice.”
“Since the end of magmatic eruption in March, 2018, Mayon Volcano has exhibited declining earthquake activity and sulfur dioxide emission. A slight swelling or inflation of the edifice began in February, 2019,” Phivolcs added.
State volcanologists explained that Mayon’s recent behavior has been mainly driven by “changes occurring within magma that was already present, instead of fresh magma moving toward the surface.”
Alert Level 2
Alert Level 2 remains in effect over Mayon Volcano since March 29, 2018 which means that it is at “moderate level of unrest.”
Phivolcs reiterated its recommendation that entry into the six kilometer-radius permanent danger zone, and a precautionary seven kilometer-radius extended danger zone must be strictly prohibited.
This covers the south-southwest to east-northeast sector of the volcano stretching from the barangays of Anoling in the town of Camalig, to Sta. Misericordia in Sto. Domingo.
Sudden explosions, lava collapses, pyroclastic density currents (PDCs), and ash fall can still occur and threaten areas in the upper to middle slopes of Mayon, Phivolcs said.
Active stream or river channels and those identified as perennially lahar-prone areas on all sectors of the volcano should also be avoided especially during extreme weather conditions such as heavy and prolonged rainfall.
Civil aviation authorities advised pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and PDCs may pose hazards to aircraft.