Phivolcs warns vs. pumice raft, volcanic debris on Batanes shores

Phivolcs warns vs. pumice raft, volcanic debris on Batanes shores

MANILA – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is cautioning the public against pumice raft and volcanic debris found on Batanes shores. These were generated by the recent eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba Volcano.

“The August 2021 eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba submarine volcano is the only significant explosive eruption in the northern Pacific Ocean producing pumice. Ocean currents can bring volcanic materials to the western side of the North Pacific. The floating pumice was first detected in eastern Japan coasts in October,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum, Jr. told the Philippine News Agency on Wednesday.

According to Phivolcs, someone reported to them that volcanic materials have been washed onto the shores of Sitio Maydangeb in Ivana, Batanes. This was first noticed in the coves of Batan and Sabtang islands on November 21.

Solidum said people should not swim on coasts covered by pumice rafts (floating pumice and finer volcanic materials) as these reduce visibility when swimming underneath and can cause abrasion injuries.

“This is also to avoid ingesting seawater with very fine ash and other substances leached from the pumice rafts,” he added.

As the pumice dries out, the pumice becomes easy to crumble and may be converted to finer dust particles when hauled or mobilized, Solidum pointed out.

Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) such as masks or goggles is advised. Strong winds, he said, may also whip up the dried finer ash particles, thus people are advised to wear masks if they are near a beach covered with volcanic materials and it is windy.

Local government units (LGUs), on the other hand, are advised to inform the residents of the potential harm of floating pumice to boats and engines, and abrasion injuries.

“LGUs should also issue warnings or advisories against swimming,” said Solidum.

Phivolcs also urge the LGUs to contain the accumulation of floating pumice in port area, clean up the affected beach, and explore long-term plans for proper disposal or use. (PNA)

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