Wednesday 5 June 2024

Eruption and lahar on Mount Kanloan, Negros Island, the Philippines.

Mount Kanlaon, a 2465 m stratovolcano (cone shaped volcano made up of layers of ash and lava) on northern Negros Island in the central Philippines, erupted on Monday 3 June 2024, producing a 5km high column of ash, and subsequent ashfalls in the area around the volcano. On Wednesday 5 June heavy rainfalls in the area produced a series of lahars (mudslides of volcanic ash) which swept down watercourses in some cases entering villages. There are no reports of any casualties, but the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology has warned that the mud is likely to be toxic, raising concerns about the availability of safe water in the effected villages.

An eruption on Mount Kanloan, Negros Island, the Philippines on Monday 3 June 2024. Dollet Demaflies/AFP/Getty Images.

The geology of the Philippines is complex, with the majority of the islands located on the east of the Sunda Plate. To the east of this lies the Philippine Sea plate, which is being subducted beneath the Sunda Plate (a breakaway part of the Eurasian Plate); further east, in the Mariana Islands, the Pacific Plate is being subducted beneath the Philippine Sea Plate. This is not a smooth process, and the rocks of the tectonic plates frequently stick together before eventually being broken apart by the rising pressure, leading to Earthquakes in the process. Material from the subducting Philippine Plate is heated by the temperature of the Earth's interior, causing lighter minerals to melt and the resultant magma to rise through the overlying Sunda Plate, fuelling the volcanoes of the Philippines.

Subduction beneath the Philippines. Yves Descatoire/Singapore Earth Observatory.

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