Camiguin Island’s Volcanoes

Camiguin is a volcanic island whose shape was formed thru centuries of volcanic activity. Rising up from the sea, the island was literally built with cinders, ash, and molten lava spewed out with steam and other gases by one or two volcanoes. Centuries of continuous activity may have led to explosions of these volcanoes and the formation of other outlets or vents. Molten lava and other materials flowed down around these vents, piled up and hardened, forming symmetrical volcanic cones typical of all volcanoes.

photo by benny_yap

In Camiguin, the cones identified were more or less in a group with only Mt. Guinsiliban far off. Most of the volcanic mountains that were identified were wide, gently sloping and enormously thick rock formations while others have a definite cone-shaped dome. Dubbed as composite cones or stratovolcanoes, Camiguin’s volcanoes are composed of alternating layers of tephra and solidified lava sheets.

There are seven domes or mountain rock formations that were identified and believed to be volcanoes formed from past eruptions. One volcano, Mt. Hibok-Hibok, is still active although more than half a century has passed since it last erupted. It still continues to manifest seismic activity and only has a short repose period.

The other volcanoes are namely: Mt. Vulcan, Mt. Guinsiliban, Mt. Mambajao, Mt. Timpoong, Mt. Tres Marias and Mt. Uhay. There are also quite a number of smaller volcanic domes and parasitic cones such as Mt. Carling, Mt. Tibane and Piyakong Hill at the flanks of Mt. Hibok-Hibok; Campana Hill and Minokol Hill at the flanks of Mt. Mambajao. Mt. Tres Marias is likewise found at the flanks of Mt. Mambajao.

photo by benny_yap

Mt. Timpoong has the highest peak which rises 1,580 meters or 5,184 feet above sea level, followed by Mt. Mambajao which stands 1,420 meters or 4,659 feet above sea level. Mt. Hibok-Hibok is the 3rd highest at 1,240 meters or 4,068 feet above sea level. Being a volcanic island, there are several hot sulphur springs and geothermal vents in Camiguin.

Aside from Mt. Hibok-Hibok, the other six volcanoes are inactive, considered so since they no longer manifest any seismic activity and have no continued record of eruptions. These extinct volcanoes are slowly losing their shape due to erosion.

Erosion takes place when torrents of rain during storms mix with volcanic ash, which cover the dome and sides of the volcanoes, and form into volcanic mudflow or “lahar”. The ensuing heavy mud flows down the slopes of the volcano at such speed and brings with it rocks, trees and other debris, inundating everything on their path. These occurrences inflict much damage to crops, property and loss of life.

Eventually, what would be left of these extinct volcanoes are eerie rock towers and radiating out from them may be a number of tapering, sharp-ridged walls, or dikes, of solidified rock which mark the locations of rifts inside the mountain, up which the magma also flowed during past eruptions.

photo by benny_yap

At present, pending no further major eruption, Camiguin Island is pear shaped with its coastline dotted with black sand beaches with intermittent volcanic structures and fertile lands, all after-effects of past volcanic activity. Future eruptions will surely change the island’s contour again and again, extending its coastline and adding other volcanic cones.

In spite of past destructions to life and property and the threat of further eruption of Mt. Hibok-Hibok, the Camiguingnons still refuse to leave the treacherous lap of this volcanic peak. Some persistently stay to till quite fertile lands which are conducive to crops such as coconut, copra, corn, abaca and others. The volcanic soils may be the reason why Camiguin’s lanzones has been found to be the sweetest in the Philippines.

The volcanoes and most of the rugged terrain limit the potential land use of the island which affects greatly its economic development. Yet if the provincial government of Camiguin maximizes tourism development, it may flourish and become self sufficient.

photo by bong

For the past years, the volcanoes and its rugged terrain, the hot and cold springs, waterfalls, the black & white sand beaches, the underwater cemetery and dive sites rich in coral formations and marine resources plus countless other spots have attracted both local and foreign tourists. The influx of tourists to the island has steadily been increasing thru the years.

Now, more will visit Camiguin from Bohol for a Super Shuttle Ferry is servicing both islands daily and the trip takes only 4 hours. After the richness of Bohol’s terrain in terms of white sand beaches, dive sites, caves, springs & waterfalls, heritage houses and old churches, Camiguin’s volcanoes will be a welcome diversion.