Scientist says: Oregon’s Three Sister Volcanos are rising most likely due to magma 4 miles underground

Important Takeaways:

  • Land around Oregon’s Three Sisters volcanoes is rising faster than usual, scientists say
  • An uplift of about an inch in the ground was detected roughly 3 miles west of South Sister, according to researchers from the Cascades Volcano Observatory
  • According to the USGS, Oregon and Washington, with more than 25 active volcanoes, comprise one of the most volcanically active regions in the country.
  • The uplift in the Three Sisters area is most likely caused by magma 4 miles underground. Bursts of small earthquakes are common in the area and throughout the Cascade range, which is essentially a chain of active volcanoes
  • The region has experienced an uplift of about 12 inches over the past 25 years.

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Quaking in their beds, sleepless Icelanders await volcanic eruption

By Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen

COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Icelanders are yearning for some undisturbed shut-eye after tremors from tens of thousands of earthquakes have rattled their sleep for weeks in what scientists call an unprecedented seismic event, which might well end in a spectacular volcanic eruption.

“At the moment we’re feeling it constantly. It’s like you’re walking over a fragile suspension bridge,” Rannveig Gudmundsdottir, a lifelong resident in the town of Grindavik, told Reuters.

Grindavik lies in the southern part of the Reykjanes Peninsula, a volcanic and seismic hot spot, where more than 40,000 earthquakes have occurred since Feb. 24, exceeding the total number of earthquakes registered there last year.

Located between the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates, Iceland frequently experiences earthquakes as the plates slowly drift in opposite directions at a pace of around 2 centimeters each year.

The source of the past weeks’ earthquakes is a large body of molten rock, known as magma, moving roughly one kilometer (0.6 mile) beneath the peninsula, as it tries to push its way to the surface.

“We’ve never seen so much seismic activity,” Sara Barsotti, volcanic hazards coordinator at the Icelandic Meteorological Office (IMO) told Reuters.

Some of those quakes clocked in at magnitudes as high as 5.7.

“Everyone here is so tired,” Gudmundsdottir, a 5th grade school teacher, said. “When I go to bed at night, all I think about is: Am I going to get any sleep tonight?”.

Many in Grindavik have visited relatives, spent time in summer houses, or even rented a hotel room in Reykjavik, the capital, just to get a break and a good night’s sleep.

Authorities in Iceland warned of an imminent volcanic eruption on the peninsula in early March, but said they did not expect it to disturb international air traffic or damage critical infrastructure nearby.

Unlike the eruption in 2010 of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano, which halted approximately 900,000 flights and forced hundreds of Icelanders from their homes, the eruption on the peninsula is not expected to spew much ash or smoke into the atmosphere.

Experts are expecting lava to erupt from fissures in the ground, possibly resulting in spectacular lava fountains, which could extend 20 to 100 meters in the air.

Already last year authorities put an emergency plan in place for Grindavik. One option includes putting locals on boats in the North Atlantic, if an eruption shuts roads to the remote town.

“I trust the authorities to keep us informed and evacuate us,” Gudmundsdottir said. “I’m not scared, just tired.”

(Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Volcano erupts on Italian island of Stromboli, kills one person

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this image obtained from social media. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

By Angelo Amante

ROME (Reuters) – A volcano on the Italian island of Stromboli erupted on Wednesday, releasing hot trapped magma in a powerful explosion, killing one person and enveloping the popular tourist destination in ash, witnesses and local officials said.

The person, believed to be a tourist, was killed by falling stones during a walk, a rescue service official said. A second person was injured.

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

Ash rises after a volcano eruption in Stromboli, Italy, July 3, 2019 in this still image obtained from a social media video. Gernot Werner Gruber via REUTERS

The unexpected eruption started fires on the western side of the small Mediterranean island, which lies north of Sicily, off the toe of Italy. Fire crews were being called in from nearby locations and a Canadair plane was already in action.

“We saw the explosion from the hotel. There was a loud roar,” said Michela Favorito, who works in a hotel near Fico Grande, on the east side of the island.

“We plugged our ears and after this a cloud of ash swept over us. The whole sky is full of ash, a fairly large cloud,” she told Reuters.

Fiona Carter, a British tourist on the island of Panarea, some 27 km (17 miles) from Stromboli, heard the blast.

“We turned around to see a mushroom cloud coming from Stromboli. Everyone was in shock. Then red hot lava started running down the mountain towards the little village of Ginostra,” she told Reuters.

“The cloud got bigger, white and gray. It enveloped Ginostra and now the cloud has covered Stromboli entirely. Several boats set off for Stromboli,” she added.

Stefano Branca, an expert with the National Institute of Geophysics and Vulcanology (INGV), said there had been a “paroxysmal eruption” on the island, when high-pressure magma explodes from a shallow, underground reservoir.

“These are events of great intensity and quite rare,” he told Reuters.

Tourists often climb to the 924-metre (3,000-foot) summit of the volcano and peer into its crater, with small puffs of molten rock regularly blasted into the sky. It was not clear if anyone was on the crater at the time of the blast.

According to the geology.com website, Stromboli is one of the most active volcanoes on the planet and has been erupting almost continuously since 1932.

The island was the setting for a 1950 movie starring Ingrid Bergman and, with other islands in the Aeolian archipelago, has become a favorite location in recent decades for holiday homes for the rich and famous.

(Writing by Crispian Balmer; Editing by Hugh Lawson, Frances Kerry and Peter Graff)

Lava covers potentially explosive well at Hawaii geothermal plant

Lava from the Kilauea volcano shoots out of a fissure, in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa, May 26, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Garci

By Jolyn Rosa

HONOLULU (Reuters) – Lava from Hawaii’s erupting Kilauea volcano has covered a potentially explosive well at a geothermal power station and threatened another, after flowing onto the site, officials said.

The Hawaii Civil Defense Agency said the wells “are stable and secure”, and Hawaii Governor David Ige said that the plant was “sufficiently safe” from the lava that has plowed through backyards and streets and burned dozens of homes.

But lava has never engulfed a geothermal plant anywhere in the world and the potential threat is untested, according to the head of the state’s emergency management agency. Local residents fear an explosive emission of deadly hydrogen sulfide and other gases should wells be ruptured.

The molten rock was expected to continue to flow across the Puna Geothermal Venture (PGV) facility, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Lava flows are seen entering the sea along the coastline during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano May 23, 2018. USGS/J. Ozbolt, Hilo Civil Air Patrol/Handout via REUTERS

Lava flows are seen entering the sea along the coastline during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano May 23, 2018. USGS/J. Ozbolt, Hilo Civil Air Patrol/Handout via REUTERS

Since Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano began a once-in-a-century-scale eruption on May 3, authorities have shutdown the plant, removed 60,000 gallons of flammable liquid, and deactivated wells that tap into steam and gas deep in the Earth’s core.

Magma has drained from Kilauea’s summit lava lake and flowed around 25 miles (40 km) east underground, bursting out of about two dozen giant cracks or fissures near the plant.

The Israeli-owned 38 megawatt plant typically provides around 25 percent of electricity on the Big Island, according to local power utility Hawaii Electric Light.

Operator Ormat Technologies Inc last week said there was no above-ground damage to the plant, but it would have to wait until the situation stabilized to assess the impact of earthquakes and subterranean lava flows on the wells.

Over the weekend, there were more than 250 earthquakes at Kilauea’s summit, with four explosions on Saturday sending ash as high as 12,000-15,000 feet, officials said.

Winds are set to shift on Monday and Tuesday, causing higher concentrations of ash and volcanic smog that will spread west and northwest to affect more populated areas, said National Weather Service meteorologist John Bravender.

Onlookers gather at the foot of the lava bed, as a lava shoots molten rock into the air, in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Garcia

Onlookers gather at the foot of the lava bed, as a lava shoots molten rock into the air, in the Leilani Estates near Pahoa, May 27, 2018. REUTERS/Marco Garcia

U.S. Marine Corps and National Guard helicopters are on standby for an air evacuation if fissure activity cuts off Highway 130, the last exit route for up to 1,000 coastal residents.

More residents in some sections of the Leilani Estates neighborhood were ordered to immediately evacuate shortly before 8 p.m. “due to a fast moving lava flow from Fissure 7”, a statement from the civil defense agency said.

Officials had no information on how many residents still remained in the neighborhood or how many people might have already left. Local media has reported that about 2,000 people have already evacuated since the new eruptions began.

(Reporting by Joyln Rosa in Honolulu; Additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Editing by Darren Schuettler and Alison Williams)

Deadly acid cloud rises over Hawaii as lava streams into ocean

Steam and volcanic gases rise as lava flows into the Pacific Ocean southeast of Pahoa during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 20, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Deadly white clouds of acid and fine shards of glass boiled into the sky over Hawaii on Monday as lava from the Kilauea volcano flowed into the ocean, creating a new hazard from a more than two-week eruption.

Hawaii’s Civil Defense agency warned motorists, boaters and beachgoers to beware of toxic clouds of so-called “laze” — a combination of “lava” and “haze” — which formed as two streams of hot lava poured into sea water.

The caustic plume, which can be fatal if inhaled, was the latest danger in an eruption that shows no signs of stopping, Since it started on May 3. It has already produced around two dozen lava-spewing cracks, the same number as a previous 88-day event in 1955.

The eruption has entered a more violent phase, in which large volumes of rich, orange molten rock, hotter and faster than older magma, are streaming out of fissures in the ground that have erupted around a small area of rural communities.

“We’ve seen Phase 1. We’ve seen the clearing out of the system. We call that the ‘throat-clearing’ phase,” Carolyn Pearcheta, operational geologist at the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, told reporters on a conference call.

Lava has destroyed at least 44 homes and other structures in the Leilani Estates and Laipuna Gardens area of the Puna district.

A “lava bomb”, a plate-sized chunk of lava that flew horizontally out of a fissure, seriously injured one man on Saturday.

Lava flows downhill in this helicopter overflight image of Kilauea Volcano's lower East Rift zone during ongoing eruptions in Hawaii, U.S. May 19, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS

Lava flows downhill in this helicopter overflight image of Kilauea Volcano’s lower East Rift zone during ongoing eruptions in Hawaii, U.S. May 19, 2018. USGS/Handout via REUTERS

Two thousand people have been ordered from their homes due to lava flows and toxic sulfur dioxide gas, levels of which have tripled in the last two days, according to the County of Hawaii Civil Defense. Hawaii National Guard has warned of more mandatory evacuations if further highways are blocked.

Flows of molten rock are traveling at around 400 yards (meters) per hour, twice as fast as earlier streams, Pearcheta said. Lava is expected to begin sending fountains of lava up to 600 feet (183 meters) into the air, three times as high as before, she added.

The new laze threat, which killed two people when a lava flow reached the coast in 2000, is a mix of hydrochloric acid fumes, steam and fine volcanic glass specks created when erupting lava, which can reach 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,093 degrees Celsius), reacts with sea water.

The cloud could extend as far as 15 miles (24 km), mostly along the coast and offshore, geologists said on Sunday. Even a wisp can cause eye and respiratory irritation, and it causes acid rain that has corrosive properties equivalent to diluted battery acid, the U.S. Geological Survey said.

An air quality index for Kona, about 40 miles (64 km) northwest of the eruption site, was at “orange,” meaning older individuals and those with lung problems could be affected.

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester, additional reporting by Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu; Writing by Andrew Hay; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sandra Maler)

Huge fissures open on Hawaiian volcano, some defy evacuation order

Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Two new fissures opened on Hawaii’s Kilauea volcano, hurling bursts of rock and magma with an ear-piercing screech on Sunday, threatening nearby homes and prompting authorities to order new evacuations.

Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Lava erupts from a fissure east of the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

One new fissure from Sunday morning was a vivid gouge of magma with smoke pouring out both ends and was the 17th to open on the volcano since it began erupting on May 3. Some 37 buildings have been destroyed and nearly 2,000 people ordered to evacuate in the past 10 days.

Viewed from a helicopter, the crack appeared to be about 1,000 feet (300 meters) long and among the largest of those fracturing the side of Kilauea, a 4,000-foot-high (1,200-meters) volcano with a lake of lava at its summit.

“It is a near-constant roar akin to a full-throttle 747 interspersed with deafening, earth-shattering explosions that hurtle 100-pound (45-kg) lava bombs 100 feet (30 meters) into the air,” said Mark Clawson, 64, who lives uphill from the latest fissure and so far is defying an evacuation order.

Closer to the summit, in the evacuated Leilani Estates neighborhood of about 1,500 people, explosions could be heard in the distance as steam rose from cracks in the roads. The bulging rim of one fissure wrecked a building, leaving behind torn metal.

An 18th fissure opened nearby on Sunday evening at about 6 p.m. local time, spewing fumes and lava, officials said.

In areas where sulfur dioxide emissions were strong, the vegetation turned brown and leafless trees withered.

Volcanic gases rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Volcanic gases rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

The U.S. Geological Survey warned that fissures could erupt throughout the area, and Civil Defense officials on Sunday ordered people living on Halekamahina Road to evacuate and be on the alert for gas emissions and lava spatter.

Meanwhile, other fissures continued to billow smoke over homes on the eastern point of the Big Island of Hawaii, the largest of the Hawaiian islands.

Even so, some people such as Clawson remained in their homes, confident they would be spared.

“We are keeping track of lava bombs. One went through the lanai (porch) roof of a neighbor’s house,” Clawson said. About eight to 10 neighbors had yet to evacuate, he said.

The Hawaii National Guard is warning people in the coastal Lower Puna area to prepare to leave, saying anyone who chooses to stay behind cannot count on being rescued. An evacuation has not been ordered there but might be if a local highway is cut off.

Volcanic gasses rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

Volcanic gasses rise from the ground in the Leilani Estates subdivision during ongoing eruptions of the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii, U.S., May 13, 2018. REUTERS/Terray Sylvester

“We’ve been telling them, ‘Evacuate if you can, because if we have to come in and get you we’ll be putting first responders at risk’,” Major Jeff Hickman told reporters. “There’s a point where we’ll tell our first responders, ‘Nope, you can’t go’.”

 

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester in Pahoa and Jolyn Rosa in Honolulu; additional reporting by Rich McKay in Atlanta; Writing by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Paul Simao, Daniel Wallis and Paul Tait)

Toxic gas alert for Hawaii volcano eruption; new areas at risk

Deposits are seen on a road in Puna, Hawaii. Apau Hawaii Tours/via REUTERS

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Residents on the Big Island of Hawaii were alerted on Thursday to rising levels of toxic gas from lava-oozing fissures, and geologists warned that new areas east of the erupting Kilauea volcano may be at risk of molten rock bursting from the ground.

Hawaii County authorities sent a text message to residents of the southeast corner of the island warning them of a wind change that would bring rising levels of sulfur dioxide gas, which can be fatal if inhaled in large quantities.

“It’s just horrible. You can’t breathe in there,” said evacuated resident Robynn Stagg, 58, who drove through the thick, orange sulfur dioxide haze earlier this week in a failed attempt to check on her home.

Hawaii’s governor has warned that mass evacuations may be required as more fissures open in the ground and spew lava and gas into semi-rural residential areas on the east flank of Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes.

During an evening meeting with community members, an official with the United States Geological Survey’s Hawaii Volcano Observatory said that while no new fissures have opened during the last 24 hours, there has been “quite a bit” of ground cracking over the last day and that they were releasing steam.

“Because the lava intrusion is still active and earthquakes are still occurring, we still think there’s a decent chance of new eruptive activity at the surface,” Steven Brantley said.

Authorities on Thursday completed the removal of highly flammable chemicals from a nearby geothermal power plant that was in the path of creeping lava.

The latest upheaval at Kilauea began last week after the crater floor of a long-active side vent collapsed suddenly in a cloud of ash, triggering a similar plunge in the molten lake inside the larger crater at the volcano’s summit.

What followed was a flurry of earthquakes as huge volumes of magma — the term for lava beneath the surface — drained back through deep-underground passages that carried the molten rock far downslope. The lava then forced its way back to the surface through large cracks, or fissures, that opened at ground level in a residential area miles (km) a

‘BALLISTIC BLOCKS’

Geologists said Kilauea may be entering a new phase of explosive eruptions not seen in nearly a century that could hurl “ballistic blocks” weighing up to 12 tons for half a mile (800 meters), and rain pebble-sized fragments for another mile or two (1.8 to 3.2 km).

However, the immediate vicinity around the summit, an area controlled by the National Park Service, was to be closed to visitors indefinitely, starting on Thursday night.

Such blasts would likely also eject plumes of volcanic ash that could be carried farther downwind into neighboring communities, creating a nuisance and potential respiratory irritant, but not a life-threatening hazard, officials said.

The Leilani Estates community remains in greatest danger, with 15 volcanic fissures so far having destroyed 36 structures, most of them homes, and forcing the evacuation of about 2,000 residents.

But as the eruption progresses, “other areas of the lower East Rift Zone may also be at risk,” the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory said in a bulletin.

“There is the potential for additional outbreaks,” Christina Neal, the chief scientist at the U.S. Geological Survey’s Hawaiian Volcano Observatory at Kilauea told a news briefing. “There are other communities, other residential neighborhoods that could, depending on the evolution of activity, be in harm’s way.”

Hawaii Governor David Ige has requested federal disaster assistance as he said a mass evacuation of the lower Puna District, where Leilani Estates is located, would be beyond current county and state capabilities.

Hawaii police said they arrested Alexandru Stingu-Dragomir, 29, on suspicion he burgled four houses in Leilani Estates after the mayor declared an emergency the area on last week.

SURFING IN THE VOG

Local meteorologists said the change in prevailing winds could send Kilauea’s volcanic smog, or vog, northwest to Maui and other islands in Hawaii.

Surfers bobbing in the ocean off Kona on the west side of the Big Island complained of the smog that could be seen in a haze over the coast.

“Does that hat protect against vog?” one surfer was heard quipping to another about the floppy sun hat he was wearing.

In Pahoa, the nearest village to Kilauea, some schools remained closed after the area was hit by a 6.9 magnitude earthquake on Friday, the biggest since 1975.

The closures have added to a sense of disarray and ramped up stress levels, said gallery owner Amedeo Markoff, 49.

“It’s like our version of a snow day — a lava day,” joked Markoff.

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester and Jolyn Rosa; Writing and additional reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Sandra Maler)

Indonesia evacuates residents, shuts airport after Java volcano erupts

JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesian authorities ordered people living near a volcano to leave their homes on Friday and a major city closed its airport after the 5,500 meter (18,000 ft) peak sent a column of steam and ash into the sky.

The Mount Merapi volcano on densely populated Java island is one of the most active in Indonesia and a series of eruptions in 2010 killed more than 350 people.

A disaster mitigation agency told residents living within a 5 km (3 mile) radius of the mountain to move to shelters, agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said in a statement.

He said that 120 people who had been hiking up Merapi were safe.

The airport in Yogyakarta, the nearest big city to the volcano, shut because of the threat from the ash, the state-owned aviation agency AirNav said in a statement.

The disaster agency described Merapi’s latest eruption as phreatic, which means magma heats up ground water and vapor is released under pressure.

The alert status on Merapi had not be raised, it said.

(Reporting by Jessica Damiana; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Robert Birsel)

Hawaii volcano threatens power plant; mass evacuations possible

Lava advances towards a metal barrier in Puna, May 6, 2018. WXCHASING via REUTERS

By Terray Sylvester

PAHOA, Hawaii (Reuters) – Hawaii authorities scrambled to move tens of thousands of gallons of highly flammable chemicals from the path of lava on Thursday, and the state’s governor warned mass evacuations might be needed as the Kilauea volcano’s eruption became more violent.

After a new fissure opened on Wednesday about half a mile from a geothermal power plant, Hawaii Governor David Ige set up an emergency task force to remove the pentane used in the plant’s turbines. He cited estimates that if the fluid ignites, the resulting explosion could create a blast radius of up to one mile. (1.6 km)

The Puna Geothermal Venture plant sits at the edge of the Leilani Estates residential area on Hawaii’s Big Island where lava from 15 volcanic fissures has so far destroyed 36 structures, most of them homes, and forced the evacuation of around 2,000 residents.

“As more fissures open and toxic gas exposure increases, the potential of a larger scale evacuation increases,” Ige said in a tweet on Wednesday evening.

“A mass evacuation of the lower Puna District would be beyond current county and state capabilities, and would quickly overwhelm our collective resources,” Ige tweeted, saying in a separate post that he signed a request for federal disaster assistance.

The lower part of the Puna District, of which Leilani Gardens is a part, covers dozens of square miles and is home to many thousands of residents. It has the highest possible hazard risks for lava flows, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

Exposure to very high levels of the sulfur dioxide gas emitted from the fissures can be life-threatening, experts say.

Geologists warned on Wednesday that Kilauea may be entering a more violent phase of explosive eruptions, the likes of which Hawaii has not seen in nearly a century.

Steam-driven explosive eruptions could hurl “ballistic blocks” weighing several tons upwards of half a mile and dust towns as far away as Hilo, some 25 miles (40 km) distant, with volcanic ash and smog.

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where Kilauea is located, said on Wednesday it would close most of the park on Friday due to the threat of a possible explosive eruption.

Magma is draining out of the volcano’s sinking lava pool and flowing underground tens of miles eastward before bursting to the surface on Kilauea’s eastern flank in the lower Puna area.

“There’s still quite a fair bit of magma under the ground that’s available to erupt,” Tina Neal, the scientist in charge of the USGS Hawaiian Volcano Observatory, said in a conference call, adding that she saw no end to activity in the east rift zone.

Kilauea has been in a state of nearly constant eruption for 35 years. It predominantly oozes out lava from fissures that flows into the ocean but occasionally experiences more explosive eruptions, such as an event in 1924.

 

(Reporting by Terray Sylvester, writing and additional reporting by Andrew Hay in New Mexico; Editing by David Gregorio)

Displaced Filipinos brace for long wait as fiery Mayon Volcano rumbles on

Lava flows from the crater of Mount Mayon volcano during a new eruption in Legazpi city, Albay province, Philippines January 25,

By Ronn Bautista and Roli Ng

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines (Reuters) – A huge plume of ash billowed from the glowing peak of the Philippines’ most active volcano on Thursday, as more residents of surrounding areas fled and experts warned of further escalation 12 days after it started to erupt.

A cloud hovered some 8,202 feet (2,500 meters) above Mount Mayon in central Albay province and orange lava fountained and flowed down from its crater as magma continued to move beneath.

Scientists recorded regular episodes of intense activity throughout the day. Tourists, residents and media gathered at vantage points to document the drama at the country’s most impressive volcano, which last erupted in 2014.

Mayon’s unrest has displaced about 75,500 people, the majority of whom are in evacuation centers, where children lined up for meals and parents braced for the possibility of a long stay away from home.

Lava flows from the crater of Mount Mayon volcano during a new eruption in Legazpi city, Albay province, Philippines January 25,

Lava flows from the crater of Mount Mayon volcano during a new eruption in Legazpi city, Albay province, Philippines January 25, 2018. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

“We are worried. We got used to the volcano, but we are still afraid,” said one evacuee, Irene Agao.

“If only we could, we would go home right now, away from this evacuation center, but we need to stay. Because we never know what else the beautiful Mayon volcano will do.”

Government offices and schools have been closed in 17 towns and municipalities and 66 flights have been canceled in recent days. The authorities have warned residents far from the area to stay indoors to avoid heavy ash fall.

The alert remains just one notch below the highest level of 5, after five more episodes. The provincial government has expanded the no-go area around the 2,462-metre (8,077-foot) Mayon to a radius of 9 kilometers.

Mayon was showing no signs of calming down soon, said Paul Alanis of the Philippine volcanology agency.

“Right now our instruments around the volcano are measuring or detecting magma constantly coming up from below,” Alanis said.

“So there’s always that danger, that this may still escalate.”

(Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)