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Report on Bulusan (Philippines) — February 1988


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 2 (February 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Bulusan (Philippines) Small ash ejections and seismicity

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Bulusan (Philippines) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198802-273010



12.769°N, 124.056°E; summit elev. 1535 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A mild ash ejection began on 20 February at 1945. Lightning flashes were observed near the summit during the activity, and hissing and rumbling were faintly audible from 2010 until 0600 the next morning on the W side of the volcano. A field investigation revealed traces of ash on W flank villages (Gulanggulang, 7 km SW of the summit; Bolos, 7 km W; and Sangkayon). No clear precursors were observed. Local seismicity had varied from 0 to 3 volcanic events/day, temperatures and chemistry of monitored hot springs showed no anomalous changes, and results of the latest EDM survey, in October, were within background levels.

After the eruption, a white steam plume emerged from the vent under some pressure; during quiescent periods, only a wispy plume is usually emitted. Vapor emission from the upper end of a fissure was about half that of the steaming vent. Temperatures of hot springs remained stable. The single nearby PHIVOLCS seismograph (at San Benon, 5.1 km SW of the crater) recorded an indistinct explosion signal with the onset of ash ejection. An increase in local seismicity followed, as 29 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes (LFVE), 19 tremor episodes, and five explosion shocks were recorded during the remainder of the day. Only one LFVE was detected the next day (21 February), but a sulfurous odor was noted at Gulanggulang. Local seismicity increased again on 22 February, with 6 high-frequency volcanic earthquakes (HFVE) and 12 LFVEs. Amplitudes of the HFVEs were larger, but none were felt.

A magnitude 6.9 regional earthquake was centered 80 km NE of Bulusan on 24 February and felt at Rossi-Forel intensity V in the Bulusan area; several aftershocks were also felt there. At about the time of the regional earthquake, a landslide was observed to have recently occurred on the volcano's middle to lower flank. The number of recorded local earthquakes reached a maximum the same day (80 events), and seismicity remained vigorous through the end of the month. Steaming from the upper end of the fissure varied from weak to moderate. Sulfurous odors and hissing sounds were often evident (at Gulanggulang; Angas, 2 km W; San Benon; and Cogon, 5 km SW).

Small ash emissions occurred on 1 March, at 0502, 0552, 1458, 1510, 1523, 1528, and 1547, accompanied by rumbling sounds, explosion earthquakes, and several minutes of harmonic tremor. The ash plume ejected at 1458 reached 1 km above the crater; summit weather clouds obscured the morning plumes. Ash emitted in the morning was carried west by prevailing winds (to the villages of Gulanggulang, Sangkayon, and Puting Sapa). Afternoon ashfall was more extensive, and included the NW flank (reaching Aniog, 5.5 km NW; Rangas, 7 km NW; Bacolod, 6.5 km WNW; Puting Sapa; Buran-Buran; Sangkayon; Bolos, 7 km W; Guruyan, 9 km WSW; and Cogon). A small mudflow was observed at Cogon at 0700, consisting partly of ash ejected earlier that day. Some low-frequency harmonic tremor was detected after the 1 March explosions.

Ash ejections resumed 6-8 March. On 6 March, a 1,500-m column was emitted at 1504, depositing ash to the W and SW (on the villages of Cogon; San Benon; Mt. Jormajan, 6 km WSW; Puting-Sapa; Gulanggulang; Monbon, 6 km SW; Gabao, 9.5 km WSW; and Tinampo). Additional ejections at 1521, 1525, 1536, 1606, 1649, and 2050 were recorded as explosion earthquakes. On 7 March at 1107, a 1,430-m-high ash cloud was observed from the SE flank village of Salvacion. Ejections continued that evening at 2013 and 2016 and early the next morning at 0030, 0249, and 0414. Ash again fell on the S and SW flanks (at Monbon, Gulang, Cogon, and Tinampo). Rumbling sounds accompanied all of the episodes except those on 7 March at 2013 and 8 March at 0030, when distinct explosions were heard by volcanologists at San Benon. Frequent seismicity continued, with a maximum of 58 tectonic earthquakes and 43 volcanic events on 7 March.

PHIVOLCS noted that Bulusan's 1988 behavior remains similar to the 1980 activity, which lasted for 9 months, and more mild ash ejections are expected.

Geological Summary. Luzon's southernmost volcano, Bulusan, was constructed along the rim of the 11-km-diameter dacitic-to-rhyolitic Irosin caldera, which was formed about 36,000 years ago. It lies at the SE end of the Bicol volcanic arc occupying the peninsula of the same name that forms the elongated SE tip of Luzon. A broad, flat moat is located below the topographically prominent SW rim of Irosin caldera; the NE rim is buried by the andesitic complex. Bulusan is flanked by several other large intracaldera lava domes and cones, including the prominent Mount Jormajan lava dome on the SW flank and Sharp Peak to the NE. The summit is unvegetated and contains a 300-m-wide, 50-m-deep crater. Three small craters are located on the SE flank. Many moderate explosive eruptions have been recorded since the mid-19th century.

Information Contacts: PHIVOLCS.