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Report on Kanlaon (Philippines) — February 2007


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 32, no. 2 (February 2007)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Kanlaon (Philippines) Steam-and-ash explosions in June and July 2006

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2007. Report on Kanlaon (Philippines) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 32:2. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200702-272020



10.412°N, 123.132°E; summit elev. 2435 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After a year of quiet following ash ejections from Canlaon in May 2005 (BGVN 30:06), the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported that a new period of activity began on 3 June 2006. In total, twenty-three ash ejections occurred between 3 June and 25 July 2006. These outbursts were all water-driven in nature, characterized by emission of ash and steam that rose up to 2 km above the active crater. The prevailing winds dispersed ash in all directions. The seismic network, however, did not detect significant seismic activity before or after the ash emissions, supporting the idea that the explosions were very near-surface hydrothermal events.

Four explosive episodes that occurred over the days 3, 10, and 12 June ejected mainly steam with some ash, and affected only the summit crater and upper SW slopes. The event at 1430 on 3 June sent dirty white to grayish steam 800 m above the summit. The activity was observed until 1445 when thick clouds covered the summit. Another emission started at 2316 on 10 June and lasted until 0030 the next morning. The plume was estimated to attain heights of 700-1,000 m before drifting SW. After the ash emission, moderate to wispy steam plumes escaped, to maximum heights of 600 m above the summit. Another steam-and-ash episode during 0515-0535 on 12 June caused a plume to rise about 600 m before drifting SW. After the ash emission, generally weak to moderate steaming to a height of ~ 400 m returned. Plumes rose 600-1,000 m and drifted SW; ashfall was confined to the upper slopes. This new period of low-level unrest prompted PHIVOLCS to raise the hazard status to Alert Level 1 on 12 June, suspending all visits to within 4 km of the summit.

Three small steam-and-ash emissions without recorded seismicity occurred again between the afternoon of 13 June and the morning of the 14th. The grayish steam clouds rose ~ 900 m above the active crater and drifted NE and NW. Only traces of ash were observed over the N upper slope. An explosion from 0845 to 0924 on 14 June produced an ash and steam cloud, which rose up to 1.5 km above the summit and drifted N, affecting mainly the upper slopes. Voluminous grayish steam plumes were then seen rising up to 1.5 km above the summit crater after 1640 through the next morning. The seismic network detected only two low-frequency volcanic earthquakes. Kanlaon City proper experienced light ashfall starting at 1630 on 15 June after voluminous dirty white steam was observed rising 1.5-2 km above the summit crater a few hours earlier (from 1346 to 1520). As of 1800, ashfall was still wafting through the city.

The character of this episode changed on the afternoon of 19 June when two episodes of steam-and-ash emission sent clouds 600 m above the crater that drifted SW. Weak to moderate steaming was observed after the second explosion and during the morning observation on the 20th. The initial explosion was recorded by the Cabagnaan station's seismograph as low-frequency tremor with a duration of 13 minutes. One minute of tremor was recorded at the time of the second explosion. No precursor seismicity was detected. Traces of ashfall and sulfurous odors were reported at Barangay Cabagnaan proper in La Castellana. During the 24 hours before 0730 on 20 June, the seismic network detected two cases of low-frequency tremor and three small low-frequency volcanic earthquakes.

An additional six short steam-and-ash emissions took place during 21-25 June. The explosions produced grayish columns that rose 800-1,500 m above the crater and drifted NW, SW, and SSW. Volcanic seismicity was not associated with these events except for a single harmonic tremor before the emission on 25 June. Light ashfall was reported at Upper Cabagnaan in La Castellana. Weak to moderate steaming was observed after the explosions.

Steam-and-ash emissions were not reported again until the afternoon of 2 July. The grayish steam clouds then rose to heights of up to 1,000 m above the active crater and generally drifted NW. Another episode on the morning of 3 July produced a column to a height of 500 m above the crater. The seismograph at Cabagnaan recorded ten volcanic earthquakes while the seismograph at Sto. Bama near Guintubdan in La Carlota City recorded eight local seismic events during the 24 hour observation period that included these emissions.

An explosion-type earthquake with a 10 min, 25 sec duration was recorded at 0426 on 23 July, but cloud cover prevented observations. Traces of ash fell up to about 9 km ENE from the crater, affecting Barangays Pula, Malaiba, and Lumapao. When clouds cleared during 0630-0800 on 25 July, ash-laden steam clouds were seen rising up to 300 m above the crater drifting ENE and SE. Light ashfall was experienced at Gabok, Malaiba, and Lumapao of Kanlaon City, about 9 km from the crater. This emission was not reflected on the seismic record as only two small volcanic earthquakes were detected during the preceding 24 hours. Dirty white steam was observed on the morning of the 26th rising to a maximum of 100 m above the crater.

Explosions ceased after 25 July, and other activity, such as weak steaming and minor seismicity, showed a general trend towards quiescence. After three months with no further explosive emissions, on 2 November 2006 PHIVOLCS lowered the hazard status from Alert Level 1 to Alert Level 0, meaning the volcano has returned to normal conditions.

Geological Summary. Kanlaon volcano (also spelled Canlaon), the most active of the central Philippines, forms the highest point on the island of Negros. The massive andesitic stratovolcano is dotted with fissure-controlled pyroclastic cones and craters, many of which are filled by lakes. The largest debris avalanche known in the Philippines traveled 33 km SW from Kanlaon. The summit contains a 2-km-wide, elongated northern caldera with a crater lake and a smaller, but higher, historically active vent, Lugud crater, to the south. Historical eruptions, recorded since 1866, have typically consisted of phreatic explosions of small-to-moderate size that produce minor ashfalls near the volcano.

Information Contacts: Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), Department of Science and Technology, PHIVOLCS Building, C.P. Garcia Avenue, Univ. of the Philippines Campus, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines (URL: http://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/).