Volcano monitoring equipment stolen; Mayon on alert level 2


Mayon Volcano in 2013


Two solar panels of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology of the Department of Science and Technology (Phivolcs-DOST) were stolen from the science agency’s Mayon Resthouse (VMRH) station.

The solar panels, 150 watts each, were stolen from the VMRH station that hosts instruments for earthquake monitoring, Global Positioning System (GPS) and tiltmeter, Phivolcs-DOST said in a news release. 

The loss was discovered by Mayon Volcano Observatory personnel during their routine inspection and preventive maintenance service on February 5. 

With the loss of power supply, no data will be transmitted from the station and consequently will affect the monitoring of Mayon Volcano, Phivolcs-DOST said.

It should be noted that Republic Act 10344, or the Risk Reduction and Preparedness Equipment Protection Act of 2012, penalizes “the unauthorized taking, stealing, keeping or tampering of government risk reduction and preparedness equipment, accessories and similar facilities.”

Hence, Phivolcs-DOST strongly encourage the public to help in taking care of monitoring instruments and to promptly report any untoward incidents.

In a statement, Dr. Renato U. Solidum Jr., DOST Undersecretary for Scientific and Technical Services and OIC of Phivolcs, is seeking “the help of the people to protect the monitoring instruments placed not just in Mayon Volcano’s proximity but also in other volcanoes in the Philippines.”

He also encouraged the public to “keep guard of all the monitoring instruments” of both the DOST-Phivolcs and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration “which are very crucial in monitoring natural calamities.”

This came as it was reported that Mayon Volcano is acting up as seen from the faint crater glow exhibited on Wednesday.

However, Paul Alanis, Phivolcs resident volcanologist, dismissed the report. He said in an interview, that the glow was from remnants of the molten rocks on top of the crater emitted during the 2017 eruption.

He also said two 150-watt solar panels were discovered missing during a maintenance inspection. These, he said, provide power to seismograph and tilt data meter instruments that were installed at the upper slopes of Mayon Volcano.

Alanis said data gathered from the instruments provide scientists precise data on the seismograph instruments which detect earthquakes and rock movements inside the volcano’s vent while tilt meter instruments measure ground deformations on the volcano’s edifice.

“With the loss of the panels, there would be a gap in reading the data or signals provided by the instrument,” he lamented.

“Bulag tayo [We’re blinded] to get readings and signals in that location where the panels were lost,” he said, adding that this would in some way affect the processing and reading of data deriving from the instruments.

Alanis said several solar panels and instruments were also lost in the past. He urged villagers to be vigilant in protecting these vital instruments set up in slopes around the volcano.

A Phivolcs bulletin said the alert status over Mayon Volcano remains at Level 2, meaning the volcano is still in moderate unrest.

The public is warned, however, not to enter the six permanent danger zones, including the 7-kilometer extended danger zone at the south flank of the volcano.

Source: https://businessmirror.com.ph/2020/02/09/volcano-monitoring-equipment-stolen-mayon-on-alert-level-2/

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