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Equipment for Mayon Volcano observation was stolen, Phivolcs appeal for information

Two solar panels were stolen from the station of The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) near Mayon volcano used in monitoring instruments and other equipment to tracks the activities of the volcano and the agency is appealing for information about this incident.

The station is situated within volcano’s 6-kilometer permanent danger zone. The personnel of the observatory discovered that the two solar panels were missing with 150 watts each. This happened during their routine inspection and preventive maintenance service, based on the report from Inquirer.

mayon volcano solar panel
Photo courtesy of Business World

Reportedly, they discovered the crime on the same day the agency reported that the volcano was seen with a crater glow. Because of this unfortunate event, no data was transmitted from the station since there was no power supply. The solar panels were supposed to supply power to instruments for earthquake monitoring and continuous global positioning system (GPS) and tiltmeter.

Due to this, there was a monitoring gap, Maria Antonia Bornas, chief of Phivolcs’ volcano monitoring and eruption prediction division said. “The continuous GPS and tilt data, which monitor ground deformation from this station … is very crucial,” she explained.

Bornas added that the monitoring gaps can be a major problem if they will “model the data to see the volume of magma causing the ground deformation.” Since the late 1990s, the monitoring stations are autonomous and solar-powered. This is because they are placed in remote areas on the volcano.

“We typically have spares … so the panels [for Mayon] will be replaced today,” she said. Although one portion was disabled, 10 other remote seismic stations on Mayon Volcano are monitoring the activities of the volcano, based on the report.

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