Preparing for Kanlaon
Published by the Visayan Daily Star
Editor-in-Chief & President
Bureau Chief, Dumaguete
MAJA P. DELY
|CARLOS ANTONIO L. LEONARDIA
State volcanologists are monitoring closely the situation at Kanlaon Volcano after 136 volcano- earthquakes were recorded on its western flanks over a 24-hour observation period.
Aside from the intensity 2 to 5 earthquakes that were felt in La Carlota, Bago City and Canlaon City, activity at the vent that consisted of moderate emission of white steam-laden plumes that rose 200 meters before drifting northwest was also observed. Additionally, ground deformation data from continuous GPS measurements indicate a slight deflation of the lower and mid slopes since January 2020. Short-term electronic tilt monitoring on the southeastern flanks recorded continuing deflation of the lower slopes but inflation of the mid slopes since April 2020. These parameters indicate that hydrothermal or magmatic activity is occurring beneath the edifice.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has put Kanlaon Volcano at Alert Level 1 which means that it is in abnormal condition and has entered a period of unrest. Local government units and the public are strongly reminded that entry into the four-kilometer radius Permanent Danger Zone must be strictly prohibited due to the further possibilities of sudden and hazardous steam-driven or phreatic eruptions. Civil aviation authorities must also advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano’s summit as ejecta from any sudden phreatic eruption can be hazardous to aircraft.
The people of Negros cannot afford another natural catastrophe while we are still struggling with the negatives effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 but with the recent activity coming from Kanlaon Volcano, everybody will need to be prepared and on high alert in case anything happens.
Mount Kanlaon straddles Negros Occidental and Oriental and is the highest point in Visayas at 2,465 meters above sea level. If an eruption occurs, the provincial and local governments will not only need to respond quickly, any response will need to take into consideration the safety precautions and protocols due to our vulnerability to COVID-19. The transportation and housing of evacuees that is already a formidable task during “normal” times becomes an even bigger challenge if the people in charge have to consider COVID-19. With that in mind, any preparations for a volcanic event that requires evacuations will need to bear those additional concerns in mind and if every something happens, all government agencies involved must be ready to pounce and respond appropriately.*