Blue Moon May Stir Mayon Volcano

December 30, 2009

Being a curious person, I can understand tourists taking photos of Mayon volcano, which has been deemed ready to have a major eruption. But crossing over securities lines to snap photos? Scary.

World News reports that hotels around the volcano are fully booked and tourists are risking their lives to go into the "danger zone" to watch the lava flows and volcanic fireworks. They risk being roasted like marshmallows. From the article:
When a volcano erupts most people take to the hills and get as far away as possible.

But officials in the Philippines have expressed their amazement at the stupidity of tourists who are flocking in their thousands to fields around a dangerous volcano so they can photograph its spectacular lava flows.

Scientists say that Mount Mayon volcano is on the brink of erupting and anyone within a five-mile radius would probably be killed by lava raining down on them if it did.

'They are tempting fate. The volcano could erupt at any moment and they won't get out of there fast enough.'

Officials have tried to keep the tourists out but there is such a market for guides, locals have been making good money making the dangerous journey with them.

Even an elected official of Legazpi City has been accused of being involved in taking tourists into the danger zone. Councilor Celoy Chan has reportedly been renting his All Terrain Vehicles and even escorting tourists into the danger zone. However he claims that the tours are outside the zone.

Legazpi City, Sto. Domingo and Daraga are considered to the towns that are most threatened by lava flows according to a diagram (above) created by scientists at the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.

Meanwhile 47,000 evacuees remain in 29 shelters awaiting the volcano's eruption. The U.S. gave $100,000 in disaster relief assistance for the families. The funds will support food, water and shelter for the evacuated people.

Others claim that the full moon on New Year's eve may be the cause for the expected dangerous eruption. From the Manila Bulletin:
Resident volcanologist Ed Laguerta admitted that there were cases in the past when major eruptions of Mayon occurred during full moon or what volcanologists called as earth tide, a time when the moon is closer to the earth and its gravitational pull stronger.

“Statistically, it happened in the past. So it is accepted as a trigger factor,” Laguerta said.

This was echoed by July Sabit, spokesman of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, saying the gravitational effect of a full moon could help draw magma out of the Mayon crater.

Laguerta and Sabit, however, said a January 1 eruption is just a possibility.

Director Prisco Nilo, head of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), said the only effect of the full moon is a stronger gravitational effect, the explanation of the occurrence of high tide.

“The moon is always out there but it is closer in areas where it is seen in full view,” said Nilo.
Hopefully, the volcano will erupt quickly and revert to its dormant state so the evacuees can return to their homes.

Once in a Blue Moon
The full moon on December 31st is a called a "blue moon." Not because it will be blue, but because the appearance of a second full moon within the same month is a rare occurrence. The last blue moon was in May 2007 and the last blue moon on New Year's Eve was in December 1990. I actually remember that night!


Saipan Writer said...

The full moon on DECEMBER 31st... (not January...) just fyi.

Captain said...

By the way, there are over 47K people in shelters. Many are "sneaking back to their homes to be intimate.
The Gov. has designated many rooms in the various shelters for the use of the people to have some "private" time with their spouse, but the rooms are seldom used.

Also now many have left the shelters to spend their New Years eve at their home.
The military are trying their best to catch these people and return them to the shelters.

Wendy said...

Thanks Jane -I must really want this year to end!!!

Captain said...

By the way as of yesterday afternoon, the Gov in Legaspi ordered all of the power and water to the 32 Barangays in the affected volcano area, to be cut, as thousands of people have returned to their homes from the "shelter" , to do their traditional New Years cooking.
The military is also barricading the roads and picking up the people.
Lets see if this eruption goes off as exspected tonight.

Anonymous said...

Actually, you were right, Wendy.

The full moon was on 31 Dec 09 in the U.S., but on 1 Jan 10 in east Asia and the CNMI.