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Report on Bulusan (Philippines) — November 1994


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 19, no. 11 (November 1994)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Bulusan (Philippines) Phreatic explosions cause ashfall in local villages and up to 16 km away

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1994. Report on Bulusan (Philippines) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 19:11. Smithsonian Institution.



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A phreatic eruption at 2043 on 27 November sent an ash plume 1.5 km high that drifted W and SW, causing ashfall in six villages, and was accompanied by 14 minutes of felt tremor. Following this event, PHIVOLCS declared the area within 4 km of the crater off-limits. A second ash explosion on 3 December at 2348 was accompanied by rumbling, but details are sketchy owing to heavy cloud cover. The third ash ejection, on 4 December, deposited traces of ash ~7 km downwind; no other observations were possible. The next day, another explosion at 1227 sent ash 1.5 km high that caused ashfall 5 km WSW and was noticed in two villages.

A phreatic explosion at 0650 on 12 December was also the strongest so far. The cauliflower-shaped eruption column, accompanied by a loud "pop," rose 3 km and deposited ash as far as 16 km SW. The main eruption column, light gray in color, rose vertically, and a smaller dark-gray surge cloud seemed to emanate from the base of the main eruption cloud. However, the runout was still within 4 km of the vent and no evacuation was recommended.

Five additional small explosions occurred through 28 December. Observations of an ash explosion at 0155 on 18 December was hampered by clouds, but was inferred from the seismogram and ash deposits at 5 villages, all SW of the volcano. A minor ash explosion at 0807 on 20 December produced an ash cloud not directly observed due to rain clouds, but ash fell ~7 km SW of the vent. A brief cloud break enabled volcanologists to make a COSPEC measurement of ~370 metric tons/day. At 1525 on 23 December, a slightly stronger ash ejection lasted 4 minutes, causing light ashfall in 6 villages, also in the SW. Light ashfall 7 km from the summit was noted again the next day following a 3-minute ash ejection at 2153 on 24 December. Ash output from a 7-minute eruption at 1253 on 27 December seemed to be larger than other events and spread to a wider area, despite calmer winds, depositing small amounts of ash in nine villages.

The onset of all ash emissions had a corresponding explosion-type earthquake recorded on the seismogram. This became diagnostic during heavy cloud cover when ash plumes could not be observed directly. Based on the earthquake amplitudes, the 27 November and 12 December events were the biggest explosions, although ash emission was greater on 27 December. In nearly each case, the ash deposit was <=2 mm thick at ~7 km downwind. Hazard maps had been prepared before the 27 November event. PHIVOLCS is planning to pull the telemetered seismic network installed on Mindoro for aftershock monitoring, and move it to Bulusan.

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: R. Punongbayan, E. Corpuz, and E. Listanco, PHIVOLCS; Reuters.