THE Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) allayed fears of communities surrounding Mount Matutum following reports about the fire and smoke seen at the peak of the volcano.
In a letter, Renato Solidum, Jr., director of PHIVOLCS, said Matutum Volcano is still in a period of dormancy and observations of fire and smoke near its summit are non-volcanic in origin based on findings of forest rangers in Barangay Maligo, Polomolok, South Cotabato after the conduct of an ocular inspection.
Earlier, residents of communities surrounding Mount Matutum reported unusual observations of “fire and smoke” near the peak of the volcano.
The rangers who conducted the ocular inspection noted unusual sounds while trekking the volcano to the burning site.
Solidum stressed in his letter that based on their examination of site pictures given by the forest rangers and the lack of micro-earthquake activity in the seismic record gathered by PHIVOLCS General Santos City-Seismic Observatory, “it can be concluded that the phenomenon observed is not of volcanic activities.”
He added in his explanation that findings of the forest rangers indicated that the burns in the above site can neither be due to volcanic heat or gas nor to an eruption since there vegetation was unaffected which would otherwise have been withered or burnt as well. In addition, a new volcanic vent developed as a dormant volcano reactivates will not dissipate overnight, but will become more vigorous through time, which is not the case. The descent of wild animals such as wild pigs and monkeys to low lying farms can be due to scarcity of food supply or to disturbances in their natural habitat due to man-made disturbances, lightning, and other phenomena.
Unusual sounds reported to emanate from the summit by a barangay survey team could also be from similar non-volcanic sources. Rumbling sounds associated with volcanic activity are related to internal magmatic activity that produces volcanic earthquakes that should be recorded by their General Santos Station.
Solidum said their seismic records for Matutum recorded no seismic events for the barangay team’s observation period.
The PHIVOLCS director also assured local officials and communities of Tupi and Polomolok and all other communities around the volcano that should Matutum end its dormancy and enter a period of magmatic activity, unmistakeable signs of unrest will be manifested by the volcano such as small ash and gas explosions that can intensify through time, ground deformation, vegetation kill unabating crated glow at the summit, and increasingly perceptible earthquakes.
Solidum assured that PHIVOLCS will detect seismic or earthquake precursory activity and immediately deploy their emergency monitoring in order to check the volcano and guide communities at risk with correct and reliable scientific information.
Solidum also revealed that their agency will augment volcanic earthquake monitoring for Matutum as well as Mount Parker Volcanoes by end of 2016 with several more seismic stations on the volcanic slopes, as part of their 2012-2016 plans, in order to better monitor the dormant volcanoes in the province of South Cotabato.
Meanwhile, the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) South Cotabato led by Isidro Janita will closely coordinate with MDRRMO of Tupi and Polomolok to monitor activities of Matutum volcano. (KATHLEEN Z. TURNOS)