Mayon Volcano | John Seach


Albay Province, Luzon, Philippines

13.257 N, 123.685 E
summit elevation 2462 m

Mayon volcano is a beautifully symmetrical volcano with a steep upper slope of 35-40 and is capped by a small summit crater 200 m in diameter. Mayon eruptions produce lava flows, pyroclastic flows and mud flows which threaten populations at the base of the volcano.

A 6 km radius permanent danger zone is in place around the volcano. This is due to the possibility of sudden phreatic eruptions and rockfalls from the upper and middle slopes of the volcano.

Mayon volcano photos by John Seach

mayon volcano
Mayon volcano eruption 2006

mayon volcano philippines
Mayon volcano eruption 2006

mayon volcano
Mayon volcano painting

mayon eruption
Legazpi city, at the base of Mayon volcano

lignon hill
Lignon Hill, Legazpi city

Mayon Volcano - John Seach

mayon volcano
Mayon volcano 2006

legazpi city
Legazpi City, Philippines

Mayon Volcano has had a long history of destructive eruptions. The first recorded eruption occurred in 1616, and since that time about 40 eruptions have claimed more than 1500 lives.

2023 Eruption
Eruptions in 2023 at Mayon volcano included collapses of the lava dome and from the lava flows with incandescent rockfalls and pyroclastic flows.

2018 Eruption
Activity at Mayon volcano began with a phreatic eruption on 13 January 2018. On 14th January 2018, alert raised to level 3. Effusive lava dome observed at summit, and small lava fountaining on 15-16 January. On 22nd January a phreatomagmatic eruption produced a 5-km high ash plume. On 22-23 January, lava fountains up to 700 m high occurred at the summit. Pyroclastic flows occurred on 29th January. During the first week of February, lava flows on the volcano flank and small lava fountaining occurred.

20th December 2009
Mayon volcano was raised to level 4 alert (out of maximum 5) at 2:30 pm on 20th December (local time). During the previous 24 hours, 222 volcanic earthquakes were recorded at Mayon volcano, Philippines. One explosion occurred which produced a plume rising 500 m above the summit. Harmonic tremors were continuously recorded by the seismic instruments. There was an intense crater glow at night and incandescent lava continuously rolled down the slopes. A lava flow extends 4.5 kilometers downslope from the crater along Bonga-Buyuan Gully. Sulphur Dioxide emission increased from 2,034 to 7,024 tonnes per day. At least 40,000 people have been evacuated from the danger zone surrounding Mayon volcano, Philippines. Evacuation centers have been set up in Camalig, Daraga, Malilipot, Sto. Domingo, and Guinobatan towns; and Legazpi, Tabaco and Ligao Cities. Residents are being removed from a 7-km Extended Danger Zone on the southeast flank of the volcano. A lahar risk is present on the southern side of the volcano, and residents have been warned to avoid river channels, especially after periods of rainfall.

19th December 2009
Intensified activity occurred at Mayon volcano, Philippines over the past 24 hours with 197 volcanic earthquakes. There were 18 explosions and emissions reached a maximum height of 2000 m above the summit. Harmonic tremor was continuously recorded by the seismometers. Night observation showed an intensified crater glow and continuous avalanche of incandescent materials down the slopes. The lava flow has extended 4 kilometers downslope from the crater along Bonga Gully. Sulphur Dioxide emission increased from 1,065 to 2,034 tonnes per day.

18th December 2009
An increase in eruptions has occurred at Mayon volcano, Philippines over the past day. A total of 248 volcanic earthquakes and tremors were recorded by the seismic network. Fifty of these events were explosions. The explosions produced dark gray to dark brown ash columns that reached a maximum height of 1 km above the summit and drifted southwest. The lava flow has reached 3 km down slope from the crater, and incandescent fragments from the lava dome continuously roll down Bonga Gully reaching about 4 km down slope. Sulphur Dioxide emission rate is still high at 1,065 tonnes per day.

17th December 2009
More than 30,000 people have been evacuated from an eruption of Mayon volcano in the Philippines. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raised the alert level for the Mayon volcano Monday night to 3 out of a maximum 5, indicating a larger eruption could occur "within days to weeks." There are at least 50,000 people who need to be moved to a safer location. Most of the residents that are targeted for forced evacuation are on the southern side of the volcano around Camalig, Daraga and some parts of Legazpi City. The volcano is showing signs of increased activity, including an increase in volcanic earthquakes, strong crater glow, and lava flows. During the past 24 hours quiet extrusion of lava and incandescent lava fragments rolled down Bonga valley. The lava front extended 800 m from the crater, and detached fragments reached a distance of 4 km. Detached lava fragments produced a small secondary pyroclastic surge southwest of the volcano, and produced light ashfall in the municipalities of Camalig and Guinobatan. Seismic monitoring measured 78 volcanic earthquakes and tremors. The volcanic earthquakes are caused by magma ascent towards the crater, and the tremors were associated with the detached fragments of lava and rockfalls.

11th November 2009
An ash eruption occurred at Mayon volcano, Philippines at 1:58 am on 11th November 2009. An explosion earthquake lasting 3 minutes was accompanied by rumbling noises and ejection of incandescent fragments on the upper slopes. Ash fell on the southwest side of the volcano. Twenty volcanic earthquakes were recorded over the past 24 hours. A 6 km radius Permanent Danger Zone and 7 km Extended Danger Zone on the southeast flank of the volcano are off limits due to the threat of explosions and rockfalls.

9th August 2009 Ashfall was reported at Tabaco City and areas of Guinobatan town, surrounding Mayon volcano in the Philippines. Seismic activity did not indicate an eruption, and visual observations were not possible due to meteorological cloud in the area. There is a possibility that strong winds mobilised old ash deposits, or rockfalls caused the ashfall. In the past 24-hour observation period, PHIVOLCS reported 1,308 tons of sulfur dioxide emission from the volcano. Mayon remains at alert level 2, and there is a 6 km permanent exclusion zone, and 7 km extended danger zone at the southeast flank of the volcano. If the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology raises the volcano alert to level 3, 13,458 families or 47,018 people from the two cities and five towns would be evacuated to safer areas. People are advised to avoid the danger zone due to risk of pyroclastic flows, explosions and lava flows. Village leaders around the volcano have been issued with mountain bikes, megaphones, whistles, pocket-sized AM/FM transistor radios , flashlights and basic life support kits, to assist any evacuation.

July 2009 There are signs of unrest at Mayon Volcano in the Philippines after an increase in summit crater glow has been observed in July. This is caused by a rise in magma levels at the volcano. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has also recorded an inflation of the volcano. Alert level one is maintained at Mayon volcano and residents and tourists are advised not to enter the 7 km radius extended danger zone.
Mayon volcano in the Philippines was raised from Alert Level 1 (low level unrest) to Alert Level 2 (moderate unrest) on 10th July 2009. Beginning June 2009 seismic activity increased to the same level when a phreatic explosion occurred last August 2008. Ground uplift of one centimetre has been measured, and a summit glow was visible from Lignon Hill Observatory. An aerial survey on 8th July, 2009, showed a cone-shaped pile of hot, steaming old rocks at the summit. The low frequency volcanic earthquakes and ground uplift may indicate that new magma is rising towards the surface. A 6-km radius Permanent Danger Zone and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone on the southeast flank of the volcano are off-limits at Mayon volcano.

2008 Eruption
On 10th August 2008, an explosion occurred at Mayon volcano in Philippines. Ash reached 9000 ft altitude and drifted ENE. During the weeks prior to the eruption, there was visible glow at the crater, and increasing seismicity.

2006 Eruption
Eruptions of Mayon volcano in August 2006 resulted in evacuation of 48,000 people, and 1266 people were killed in December 2006 when heavy rain from typhoon Durian caused landslides and floods at the base of the volcano. Lessons from eruption of Mt Pinatubo in 1991 had been forgotton.

1984 Eruptions
An eruption began on 10th September 1984 with lava spilling over the crater rim. Incandescent blocks rolled 600 m down the NW flank, destroying trees. On 12th September eruptions became Vulcanian in character with pyroclastic flows extending several kilometers from the summit, and ash emissions rising to a height of 15 km.

1981 Mudflows
On 30th June 1981, typhoon Daling triggered mudflows which killed 40 people, injured nine, and left seven missing.

1978 Eruption
An eruption began at Mayon volcano on 7th May 1978 and gradually increased in intensity, reaching a maximum on 22nd May. An aa lava flow emerged from a breach in the summit crater wall and extended down the SW flank directly over the 1968 flow. Activity intensified on 7th March, with ash emissions and incandescent material were ejected. 8000 people were evacuated.

1968 Eruptions
Eruptions began at Mayon volcano on 21st April 1968. By 15th May more than 100 explosions had occurred, 6 people had been killed, and roughly 100 square km had been covered by ashfall, blocky ash flows, and a lava flow. Explosions from the summit crater ejected large quantities of ash and incandescent blocks to a height of 600 m and ash plumes 10 km high. Nuees ardentes descended southwest and reached 7 km from the summit down to an elevation of 200 m. On 27th April a large explosion breached the southwest crater rim and was followed by a viscous aa lava flow which began moving slowly down the southwest flank.

1897 Eruption
A severe eruption began at Mayon volcano on 23rd June 1897. Lava flowed down the side of the volcano for seven miles towards the east. Volcanic ash fell on the surrounding country for 100 miles to the east and 75 miles to the west. The eruption finished on 30th June 1897 and killed 350-400 people.

1814 Eruption
The eruption of Mayon in 1814 was the most destructive historical eruption at the volcano. The six hour eruption killed 1200 people. Fatalities were caused by pyroclastic density currents, port eruption lahars, and fires set alight by hot tephra.

Further reading
Newhall, C.G., 1979. Temporal variation in the lavas of Mayon Volcano, Philippines. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research6(1-2), pp.61-83.

Moore, J.G. and Melson, W.G., 1969. Nuees ardentes of the 1968 eruption of Mayon volcano, Philippines. Bulletin Volcanologique33(2), pp.600-620.

Mayon Volcano Eruptions

2023, 2022, 2018-19, 2014, 2013, 2009-10, 2008, 2006, 2004, 2003, 2002, 2001, 1993, 1984, 1978, 1968, 1947, 1943, 1941, 1939, 1938, 1928, 1900, 1897, 1896, 1895, 1893, 1891-92, 1890, 1888, 1886-87, 1885, 1881-82, 1876, 1873, 1872, 1871-72, 1868, 1863?, 1862, 1861, 1860, 1859, 1858, 1857, 1855, 1853, 1851, 1846, 1845, 1839, 1834-35, 1827-28, 1814, 1811?, 1800, 1766, 1616.