Phivolcs team studies 'blue river' in Dauin, Negros Oriental

A TEAM of researchers from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology’s (Phivolcs) central office is in Negros Oriental to conduct a series of tests, research, and water sampling of two “unusual” occurrences in Dauin town, including the “blue water phenomenon.”

The Phivolcs team, composed of Science Research Specialists Raymond Patrick R. Maximo, SRS-II, and Marie Thess D. Quilalang, SRS-I, arrived on February 28 to do a study on the Masaplod River and the Mag-aso Cave.

They will conclude their activity on March 2, said Rudy Aldenese Jr., head of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (DRRMC) of Dauin.

Dauin Mayor Neil Credo had requested for the Phivolcs team, and earlier for people from the Chemistry Department of Silliman University and the Negros Oriental State University’s Department of Physics and Geology in Dumaguete City, to conduct a study on the so-called “blue water phenomenon” at the Masaplod River and the unusual “increased” activity in Mag-aso Cave where steam vents are present.

The Phivolcs team took water samples and ran tests on the acidity (ph level) of the Masaplod River’s “blue water” and its current temperature, said Aldanese.

The “blue water phenomenon” had caught the attention of Credo and other officials, as well as the public, after it was first posted on social media last month following the series of earthquakes that mostly occurred in Cuernos de Negros in nearby Valencia town.

The occurrence of the “blue water phenomenon” is actually downstream from where two rivers, Hinalin and Masaplod, converge to just one, popularly known as the Masaplod River, with the exact location of the “blue river” being in Barangay Casile, said Aldanese.

According to Aldanese, Credo had requested for a thorough study of the unusual occurrence where the river waters have turned blue for two reasons: environmental implications, such as its cause and effects, and its impact on humans, as many people are taking a dip in the river.

On the first week of February, Credo directed the DRRMO, the police chief and the sanitary inspector to check the area after he learned about the river water turning blue, Aldanese said.

Aldanese declined to comment yet on what exactly is happening in the area, saying they do not have the technical expertise, and so they will have to wait for the Phivolcs’ official results of the study.

It might take weeks before the study results would be out, he said.

The second study that the Phivolcs’ team also conducted in Dauin is what local officials say is the unusual increase in the emission of steam in the Mag-aso Cave.

The so-called cave, according to Aldanese, is just a big hole that has long since been emitting steam, believed linked to the geothermal resources in nearby Valencia.

Photos posted by netizens on social media showed what appeared to be increased steam emission and a gaping hole that they say was getting bigger.

Aldanese said that after the series of earthquakes in Valencia last month, there is a perceived widening of the hole in the Mag-aso Cave, although this needs the validation of experts.

What the mayor wants to know about the occurrence in Mag-aso is what could be happening underneath the earth’s surface, he said.

In the meantime, the “blue river” is fast becoming a tourist draw, with many people going there to see the unusual occurrence and to take a dip in the river, Aldanese said.

So far, there are no pronouncements from anyone that the river water is not safe for swimming but the mayor wants answers at the earliest time possible to allay public concern and fears, he added.

Meanwhile, the head of the Department of Physics of Silliman University, Professor Francisco Ablong Jr., said on March 1 that they are still having an ongoing geophysical measurement and chemical analysis of the data gathered in the surrounding areas of the “blue river.”

“What is certain for now is that the cause of the occurrence of the so-called blue river phenomenon is a kind of volcanic activity happening in Cuernos de Negros which is just normal for a potentially active volcano,” he said.

The chemical that has caused the water of the Masaplod River to turn blue is still being analyzed by the Silliman University Chemistry Department, he added. (PNA)

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