InfoNews from PCASTRD- DOST, August 27, 2003  - The eruptions displayed by Mayon volcano in 1999, 2000 and 2001 showed that such event could happen frequently. And with that possibility, a large number of lives from Mayon may be threatened again. Thus, efforts are now geared upon continuous and repeated monitoring of the volcanic system for warning purposes and public safety.

The Philippine Council for Advanced Science and Technology Research and Development (PCASTRD), one of the sectoral planning councils of the Department of Science and Technology is currently supporting a project that utilizes a state-of–the-art technology to monitor Mayon Volcano’s activity.

The project, which is being implemented by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHILVOLCS) aims to establish Ground Positioning System (GPS) to set up a geodetic or ground control network around Mayon Volcano.

Part of the project’s goal is to determine ground deformation or the changing shape of Mayon Volcano that could help in eruption warnings and better understanding of how volcanoes work.

There are various ways in monitoring a volcano’s changing shape or deformation. Some methods are as simple as using a steel tape to measure a widening ground crack. However, most volcano deformations can only be detected and measured with precise surveying techniques, sensitive instruments placed on the ground or in deep holes, and satellite based technology as GPS.

According to Project Leader Ernesto Corpuz, GPS has been dramatically used as a means to measure horizontal movements that occur on active volcanoes much more accurately and conveniently, and also to estimate vertical motions in the same survey. GPS surveys can provide three-dimensional positioning with precision and rapid data acquisition.

GPS, which is developed and primarily used by the military is part of a group of satellites that can tell the exact latitude, longitude, and altitude.

“This is the first time this kind of systematic GPS observation will be established at Mayon,” Corpuz said. “We have long desired to come up with a highly accurate ground control network that is easy to update and verify,” he added

Corpuz said that the results of the project shall be the basis of accurate geodetic coordinates for volcano monitoring and eruption prediction. He also said that the project’s output can serve as a reference for topographic and land surveys associated with civil works, stakeouts, and the like.

“Researchers who are involved in geophysics, remote sensing or aerial photogrammetry and cartography and need accurate ground control points in the area of Mayon volcano may benefit from this project,” Corpuz added.

The project, which lasts for a year is also being supported by the Meteorological Research Institute (MRI) and Japan Metereological Agency (JMA). It received half a million fund support for its implementation from PCASTRD. It is being implemented under PCASTRD’s space technology applications programs, which aims to provide exposure and experience to Filipino practitioners on the use of advanced Earth observation technology as well as prepare them for the use of similar spaceborne data in the future. (Janet Rosalie Anne H. Polita)

Press Release For further inquiries, please contact: August 2003 Ms. Donnet O. Sahagun
Tel. Nos. 837-2071 to 82 loc. 2102, 2109

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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