The Telltale Signs Of A Volcano Preparing To Erupt

The Mayon volcano in the Philippines has erupted nearly 40 times in 400 years, and it looks primed to go off again. This NASA satellite image shows a small plume of ash or steam blowing west from its summit.

The authorities have already evacuated everyone living within an eight-kilometer radius, as small earthquakes, glowing lava at the peak, and falling ash created fears that the volcano was going to erupt once again. According to NASA:

On the evening of December 14, the local volcano observatory raised the alert level to Level 3, which means "magma is close to the crater and hazardous explosive eruption is imminent."

This natural-color image of Mayon was captured on December 15, 2009, by the Advanced Land Imager on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite. A small plume of ash and/or steam is blowing west from the summit. Dark-colored lava or debris flows from previous eruptions streak the flanks of the mountain. A ravine on the southeast slope is occupied by a particularly prominent lava or debris flow.

According to local news reports from December 16, fragments of lava were continuously detaching from the lava filing the crater and cascading down slope up to 3 kilometers. Lava flows reached several hundred meters from the summit, but they were still confined to ravines.

[NASA Earth Observatory]