A pile of news for the new week!
The glow of new lava flows from Nyamuragira in the Congo, taken from the Virunga Park Headquarters, January 2, 2010.
PHIVOLCS may lower the alert status at Mayon to Level 2 after almost a week of lower seismicity and no ash explosions since December 29th. Schools that were being used as evacuation centers were also returned to teachers and students for the start of classes after the Christmas holiday. However, the Albay provincial government is now considering a plan to permanently move everyone who lives within the 6-km danger zone around Mayon, even if the volcano no longer shows signs of eruption.
Over in the Congo, Nyamuragira continues to erupt. The United Nations has been called in to help monitor the situation from the air - mostly to make sure officials in the Congo know where the lava is going in the Virunga National Park and whether it might become a threat to the city of Goma. Some villages near the volcano are now coming under threat from the lava flows, but thus far, no injuries have been reported. Kenyan TV has posted some great video of the rift eruption that is producing tall fire fountains of the especially low viscosity (unlike what the video says) high-potassium basalts erupted from Nyamuragira. These high K lavas are so low in viscosity thanks to the potassium breaking the bonds in the silica network that makes up most magmas that erupt on Earth - so even though basalts are usually quite runny, the basalts from Nyamuragira are especially so - thus, the ability to flow tens of kilometers from the vent.
Jumping across the Atlantic, Galeras has settled down after its impressive explosive eruption over the weekend. INGEOMINAS lowered the alert level at Galeras on Sunday after signs of more explosions dissipated. However, considering how unexpected Saturday's eruption was, people should stay on alert for more activity. Some more video of the eruption clearly shows lightning as well as the eruption plume during Saturday's big boom.
One more continent! Redoubt in Alaska seems to also be coming down from its late 2009 signs of life. Currently, AVO reports that "seismic activity at Redoubt Volcano remains low" and only a faint steam plume is visible when not obscured by clouds. Seems like Redoubt was just teasing us for attention.
Say, did you know that January is Volcano Awareness Month? It is ... at least in Hawai`i. Not that anyone who lives in the big island wouldn't be aware of the volcanoes of the state, but rather HVO is holding a month's worth of educational features to help educate the public on the wonders and hazards of the world's most closely watched volcano. This month also marks the 27th anniversary of the start of the current eruption of Kilauea - you can also see video of the current activity at the Haleuma`uma`u crater, including the draining of the lava lake that occurred last week.