Updated update for a volcano and the Moon

Updated update for a volcano and the Moon

Updated update for a volcano and the Moon

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
Aug. 16 2006 8:47 PM

Updated update for a volcano and the Moon

Well, Mount Mayon still hasn't blown, and the full Moon was over a week ago. So much for that prediction.

But in the update I posted a few days back, I mentioned an article in German that I couldn't read. BABloggee "Chaos" (who lives in my heart as the man who instigated the Great TAM Chocolate Challenge) sent me a rough translation. I present it here for you, without any knowledge if it's accurate or not. :-) Any emphasis added is mine.

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Volcanologists warn of an explosive eruption of the Mayon. The volcano shook more than a hundred times in the last few days and released major amounts of gas. The current calm could indicate an imminent violent eruption.

The activity of the Mayon has decreased slightly in the last few hours, but volcanologists do not consider this a reason to take back previous warnings. Over the course of 24 hours, about 20 volcanic earthquakes were registered, compared with more than 100 the day before, the Philippine institute for volcanology and seismology stated. At the same time, the emission of toxic sulphur dioxide had decreased markedly.

The fluctuations are a sign that the volcano is still restless, Ernesto Corpuz of the volcanological institute said. The institute called the temporary quiet "abnormal". "Therefore, we still must be very careful". The institute's director Renato Solidum said that the gravitational attraction of the moon could have some influence of the volcanic activity.

"It is like the moon gives a volcano a massage", Ernesto Corpuz declared. At least three of the Mayon's almost 50 eruptions within the last four centuries had coincided with the full moon - including the two most recent eruptions in 2000 and 2001.

So now we have a name to one of the experts who made the Moon-volcano connection. I am still of the opinion that no such connection has been plausibly made, and while it's an interesting conjecture scientifically, reporting it to the press is perhaps not the wisest choice. If the eruption happens, it's likely to skew perception of the real connection (or lack thereof), and if it doesn't it's a "cry wolf" scenario with which volcanologists are all-too aware.