IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


14th June, 2023 Geography

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Context: Ongoing volcanic activity of Mayon Volcano in the Philippines. The volcano has been gradually expelling lava down its slopes, raising concerns about the potential for a violent and life-threatening eruption.


Volcanic Activity and Evacuations:

  • Mayon Volcano in the Philippines has been spewing lava down its slopes, raising concerns of a violent and life-threatening explosion.
  • Over 12,600 people have already evacuated from the communities within a 6-kilometer radius of the volcano's crater.
  • However, thousands of people still remain in the permanent danger zone below Mayon, where evacuation is challenging due to limited options.

Potential Expansion of High-Risk Zone:

  • If the eruption intensifies, the high-risk zone around Mayon may be expanded, requiring further evacuations.
  • The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has urged people in the expanded danger zone to be prepared for evacuation to emergency shelters.

Current Volcanic Activity:

  • The current eruption is described as an "effusive eruption," with lava flowing down the volcano's southeastern gullies.
  • Observers, including journalists, have witnessed the lava flow, while residents and tourists in Legazpi have been taking pictures of the volcano.
  • As of now, the alert level remains at three on a five-step system, indicating a state of high unrest.

Preparedness and Emergency Measures:

  • Albay province, where Mayon Volcano is located, was placed under a state of emergency to facilitate the rapid distribution of disaster relief funds if a major eruption occurs.
  • The alert level may be raised if the eruption becomes more dangerous, potentially reaching level five, indicating a violent and life-threatening eruption.

Historical Context and Acceptance:

  • Mayon Volcano is one of the 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines, known for its periodic eruptions.
  • The last violent eruption occurred in 2018, displacing thousands of residents, while a historic eruption in 1814 led to significant casualties and the burial of villages.
  • Many locals have accepted the sporadic fury of the volcano as a part of their lives, and some have built businesses around tourism or the extraction of resources from the area.

Evacuation of Livestock and Economic Impact:

  • Authorities and villagers are not only focused on human safety but also on relocating farm animals from high-risk areas to temporary grazing areas.
  • This precautionary measure aims to minimize the economic impact in case of an eruption.
  • The evacuation of livestock highlights the broad range of potential threats posed by natural disasters in the Philippines, which is prone to typhoons, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire."

Historical Volcanic Eruptions in the Philippines:

  • The Philippines experiences frequent typhoons, tropical storms, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.
  • In 1991, Mount Pinatubo erupted, causing one of the most significant volcanic eruptions of the 20th century and resulting in numerous fatalities.

About Volcanoes of Philippines

Geographical Context:

  • The Philippines is an archipelago located in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean.
  • It is part of the Pacific "Ring of Fire," a region known for its high volcanic and seismic activity due to the presence of tectonic plate boundaries.

Number of Volcanoes:

  • The Philippines is home to a significant number of volcanoes, with a total of 24 active volcanoes.
  • These volcanoes are distributed throughout the country's various islands.

Mayon Volcano:

  • Mayon Volcano is one of the most famous and active volcanoes in the Philippines.
  • Located in Albay province, it is known for its nearly perfect conical shape and scenic beauty.
  • Mayon has a long history of eruptions, with notable eruptions occurring in 1616, 1766, 1814, and 2018.

Mount Pinatubo:

  • Mount Pinatubo is another well-known volcano in the Philippines, located in the province of Zambales.
  • It gained international attention with its catastrophic eruption in 1991, which was one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the 20th century.
  • The eruption had significant impacts, including the release of a massive amount of volcanic ash into the atmosphere, leading to global climate effects.

Volcanic Hazards:

  • The volcanoes of the Philippines pose various hazards to nearby communities and the surrounding areas.
  • These hazards include lava flows, pyroclastic flows (hot ash clouds), volcanic ashfall, lahars (mudflows), and volcanic gases.
  • Eruptions can result in the displacement of local populations, destruction of infrastructure, and loss of livelihoods.

Monitoring and Preparedness:

  • The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) is responsible for monitoring volcanic activity in the country.
  • PHIVOLCS provides regular updates, alerts, and recommendations for evacuation and preparedness measures based on volcanic activity assessments.

Local Communities and Economic Impact:

  • Some communities near active volcanoes have adapted to living with the periodic volcanic activity, considering it a part of their lives.
  • However, volcanic eruptions can have significant economic impacts, particularly on agriculture and tourism sectors.
  • Measures are taken to ensure the safety of both people and livestock during volcanic emergencies.

Ring of Fire and Natural Disasters:

  • The Philippines' location within the Pacific "Ring of Fire" exposes it to multiple natural disasters, including volcanic eruptions, earthquakes, and typhoons.
  • These events highlight the country's vulnerability to natural hazards and the need for preparedness, early warning systems, and disaster management strategies.


Q) Discuss the impact of volcanic eruptions on the environment, society, and economy of a region. Examine the measures taken by countries prone to volcanic activity to mitigate the risks and manage the consequences. (250 words)