When a volcano in Guatemala becomes a pizza kitchen
by Marcelle P. Villegas - September 01, 2021
[As fiery lava flows from Pacaya Volcano in southern Guatemala, David Garcia bakes pizza in his improvised kitchen. (Photo credit/video screenshots from: EuroNews / NoComment - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nKZ__lWexo)]
In the Philippines, Taal Volcano recently manifested strong volcanic tremors in Batangas which the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) declared as Intensity II. This happened last August 12 at 4:36am. While local residents are normally encouraged to evacuate before the volcano’s activity escalates into dangerous levels, in Guatemala, the opposite was done last summer by some tourists.
In an article from “Forbes” online magazine by a freelance geologist and contributing writer, David Bressan, he tells the story of an accountant who cooks pizza using the volcanic heat in Pacaya volcano in Guatemala. Bressan’s article is titled “In Guatemala You Can Enjoy The Experience Of Eating Pizza Made On Volcanic Heat”.
“Guatemala's Pacaya volcano is erupting, spewing rivers of lava and ash clouds, keeping local communities and authorities on high alert.”
Instead of avoiding the area, David Garcia, a 34-year-old accountant, saw the fiery mountainside as an opportunity to make “Pacaya Pizza”. While lava was oozing down the volcano, the glowing volcanic rocks fascinated tourists and locals.
Garcia told news reporters, "Many people today come to enjoy the experience of eating pizza made on volcanic heat."
Pacaya volcano is one of the most active volcanoes in Guatemala and in Central America. It is 2,500 meters high and located 30 kilometers south of Guatemala City and close to Antigua. It was dormant for more than 70 years but started erupting again in 1961, and has been erupting often ever since. In March 2021, it had two strong explosions. After four months of being calm, it showed some activity again last August 5; however, it was a low-level activity. 
Pacaya volcano is part of the Central American Volcanic Arc. This is a chain of volcanoes from the northwest to the southeast of the Pacific coast of Central America. This was formed by the tectonic subduction of the Cocos Tectonic Plate below the Caribbean Plate. 
Garcia and his friends chose a spot on the rocky area that leads to Pacaya crater. In there, Garcia prepares the dough and pizza toppings on a metal platter that can withstand 1,000°C.
“Wearing protective clothing from head to his military style boots, Garcia places the pizza on the lava. After ten minutes on the 200°C to 300°C hot rocks the pizza is done.” 
“Lava emerges at temperatures of 1,000 to 1,200ºC, but when the lava's temperature has decreased to 800°C it quickly forms an insulating crust, keeping the interior still very hot. It can take years to decades for lava within thick flows to solidify. It takes much longer for the flow to cool to ambient temperatures.” 
Cooking pizza using volcanic rocks is a practice that Garcia first tried in 2013. This year when Pacaya was regularly erupting, he cooked pizza directly on the moving lava flows.
This is indeed a risky activity since an active volcano also expels toxic ash, gases and even pieces of rocks.
The practice of using lava stones is actually a traditional cooking method in most countries where volcanoes are nearby. It is because “lava rocks distribute the heat uniformly and releases it gradually.”  The slow heat release is optimal for cooking, according to those familiar with this method.
Cooking eggs and ham on fresh lava or in hot springs is a traditional experiment among volcanologists, according to Bressan’s report. “During the ongoing eruption in Iceland, scientists and tourists cooked toast and sausages on the cooling lava flows. Some even concluded this meal with a freshly brewed cup of coffee.”
The Philippines and Guatemala are similar in many ways with regards to the tropical climate and volcanic features, according to Professor Wayne Allen Parrott from University of Georgia, U.S.A. Back in November 2016, I had the chance to interview Prof. Parrott during one of his science lectures in the Philippines, organised by the U.S Embassy and AmCham Philippines. Prof. Parrott is an award-winning American scientist in the field of agronomy, genetics and biotechnology, and he grew up in Guatemala. During the interview, he mentions that one of the things he likes about the Philippines is its similarity to Guatemala. “I grew up in a tropical region, very much like the Philippines. The plant life all around me was amazing, and the diversity of plants fascinated me.” And another thing common between the Philippines and Guatemala are the numerous volcanoes present which makes the soil optimal for biodiversity while the volcano is inactive.
Do you think it is safe to use hot volcanic rocks for cooking? What do you think of David Garcia’s pizza treat for tourists at Guatemala’s Pacaya volcano?
 Bressan, David (14 May 2021). Forbes. " In Guatemala You Can Enjoy The Experience Of Eating Pizza Made On Volcanic Heat ". Retrieved from - https://www.forbes.com/sites/davidbressan/2021/05/14/in-guatemala-you-can-enjoy-the-experience-of-eating-pizza-made-on-volcanic-heat/
Marcelle P. Villegas - May 29, 2019
Is the East Mindanao Volcanic Arc Lost, Buried or Eroded?
By Marcelle P. Villegas During the GeoCon 2018 last year in December, a study about East Mindanao Volcanic Arc by Dr. Graciano Yumul, Jr. and his team, C.B. Dimalanta, J.A. Gabo-Ratio, B.D. Payot, et. al., was presented. The title is "East Mindanao Volcanic Arc, Philippines: Lost, Buried or Eroded?". The members of the study are from Apex Mining Company, Inc. (Pasig City) and Rushurgent Working Group, National Institute of Geological Sciences, University of the Philippines (Diliman, Quezon City). It seems apparent that whenever an oceanic plate subducts along a trench, this would result into the formation of a volcanic arc. There may also be a formation of geothermal fields, mineralization, accretion of oceanic plates and subduction erosion. The Philippine Mobile Belt also plays a role in this study. The Philippine Mobile Belt is a complex portion of the tectonic boundary between the Philippine Sea Plate and the Eurasian Plate. This includes the Manila Trench to the west and the Philippine Trench to the east, and the Philippine Fault System. This belt is notable to having numerous of crustal blocks or microplates. Now based on the report, the eastern boundary of the Philippine Mobile Belt is characterized by the reactivated East Luzon Trough which shares a common transform boundary with the west-dipping Philippine Trench. “It has been argued that the East Luzon Trough-Philippine Trench is propagating northward whereas the Visayan-Mindanao segment of the subduction zone is propagating southward. This is mirrored by the northward and southward propagation of the Philippine Fault Zone whose northern and southern termini are characterized by horse-tail structures,” according to the study. “A look at the Philippine Trench with respect to the Bicol Peninsula through Samar-Leyte all the way to eastern Mindanao exposes differences in the morphology and distribution of volcanic arc centers. A well-formed volcanic chain characterizes the Bicol Peninsula, whereas an alignment of geothermal fields and volcanoes can be observed along the NW-SE stretch of the Leyte island. However, eastern Mindanao is defined by an almost non-existent volcanic arc range except for Mount Paco in Surigao del Norte and Leonard Range (also known as Leonard Kniassef) in Compostela Valley.” With all these geological features and movements described from the study, here are some points to think about. “A question to ask is why would the volcanic arc range along eastern Mindanao be absent? Was it lost due to large-scale fault-related dislocation? Is the volcanic arc range simply not just exposed? Or through time, would there have been a systematic, region-wide erosion of volcanic arc centers? Or were the volcanic centers not simply formed due to stunted subducted slab or the presence of a subducted, buoyant oceanic bathymetric high?” When we take into consideration the geological evolution on this part of Mindanao, an explanation can be found compatible with what is known. “Implication in terms of arc magmatism (super-critical fluids vs mantle fluids), crustal thickness vis-a-vis barometric fugacity, tholeiitic to calc-alkaline signature of cumulate rocks and the mineralization potential of the region will also be presented.” - - -  Complete list of authors and researchers: Dr. Graciano Yumul, Jr., C.B. Dimalanta, J.A. Gabo-Ratio, B.D. Payot, V.S.V. Olfindo, G.T. Valera, C.J. Arellano, K.C. Punzalan, K.D. Jabagat, J.B. Demegillo, K.L. Queano and N.L. Caagusan You may write the team through firstname.lastname@example.org.
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr, Pasay City sign deal for monorail, flyover extension
Residents and those working in Pasay City will soon enjoy easier public transportation after the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the city government signed a deal for the construction of a monorail and extension of the Epifanio Delos Santos Avenue (Edsa)-Tramo flyover. In a live broadcast on Facebook on Wednesday, DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade and Pasay City Mayor Emi Calixto-Rubiano signed the memorandum of agreement (MOA) for the proposed Integrated Pasay Monorail and Edsa-Tramo flyover extension project. Tugade said the project will be interoperable with the Light Rail Transit Line 1 (LRT-1), Metro Rail Transit Line 3 (MRT-3), the Edsa Busway, and the Edsa Greenways. “[Ito ay] makapagbibigay ng mas mabilis at episyenteng biyahe sa mga pasahero. Magiging mas madali na rin ang access patungong central business district (CBD) ng Pasay (This will provide fast and efficient travel to passengers. Access to Pasay CBD will also be easier),” Tugade said. Aside from its benefits to commuters, he said the project will also create jobs. “Ang paulit-ulit kong sinasabi na karugtong ng mga proyekto para sa kaunlaran ay trabaho para sa Pilipino (What I have always been saying is that development projects go hand-in-hand with jobs for Filipinos),” Tugade said. He said the project is a partnership between the DOTr, Pasay City government, and SM Prime Holdings. “Makakaasa 'ho kayong magpapatuloy ang DOTr sa pagsusulong ng mga proyekto para sa ikauunlad ng pampublikong transportasyon sa bansa (You can be rest assured that the DOTr will continue to promote projects for the development of public transportation in the country),” Tugade said. The MOA signing was witnessed by Pasay City Vice Mayor Noel del Rosario, DOTr Undersecretary for Finance Giovanni Lopez, Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Reinier Paul Yebra, Undersecretary for Railways Timothy John Batan, SM Prime Holdings President Jeffrey Lim, and other representatives from the Pasay City government and the private sector. On Sept. 7, the Pasay City government and the SM Prime Holdings made a joint presentation on the project to the DOTr. By Raymond Carl Dela Cruz Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 24, 2021
DOTr eyes GenSan airport as alternate int'l gateway
Photo credit: Department of Transportation The Department of Transportation (DOTr) is pushing for the inclusion of the newly rehabilitated and expanded airport here as among the alternate gateways for returning Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) and international travelers. DOTr Secretary Arthur Tugade proposed the move on Thursday as he personally led the formal unveiling and inauguration of the city airport’s new passenger terminal building and other completed facilities. He said the city’s international standard airport can accommodate airline passengers coming in from as far as the Middle East. Tugade said it can be realized once the proposed increase in the daily cap for returning OFWs, currently at 2,000 for the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), is approved. Once the cap is expanded, he said NAIA might “choke” with the influx of airline passengers from various countries. “If we will increase the cap, we need to expand our gateways and not limit them to Clark, Cebu, and NAIA. We can include GenSan among the gateways for travelers from Doha who are going to Manila,” he said in a press conference. He said they will propose such strategy with the airlines serving the international routes, including the Philippine Airlines, and seek the approval of the city government. The other possible alternate gateways could be the Laoag International Airport in Ilocos Norte and the Bohol-Panglao International Airport, Tugade said. The rehabilitated and expanded General Santos Airport passenger terminal building, which was completed early this month, is part of the PHP959-million upgrade implemented by the national government. The other completed components are the procurement and installation of navigational aids and the construction of the new Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (CAAP) administration building at the airport. Under the project, Tugade said the passenger terminal area has tripled in size from 4,000 to 12,000 square meters. “This will allow the airport to accommodate more passengers and provide them comfortable and convenient travel,” he said in his speech. A DOTr report said the larger passenger terminal building can now accommodate around 2 million passengers annually, a significant jump from the previous 800,000 per year. Tugade said the improvement at the city airport will continue next year with the upgrading of its air control tower, which he considered as “too low.” He said they will build a “higher and modernized” tower in 2022 to make it “more world-class” and can easily adjust to the needs of the airport. The official said the upgrading of the airport, which started in 2018, is among the agency and the national government’s top priorities in Mindanao. He said the initiative is part of the government’s efforts to bring more progress and economic opportunities in Mindanao, which “suffered from long years of neglect in terms of development.” Tugade said they endeavored to implement these projects despite the challenges posed by the continuing coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic to pursue their goal of giving a “comfortable and convenient life” to Filipinos. “After the pandemic, we want all these developments in place and ready to benefit the people,” he said. In a video message, President Rodrigo Duterte commended the DOTr, the local government, and concerned stakeholders for completing the projects at the city airport amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He said the city has “gone a long way” in terms of the development of its air connectivity and airport facilities. “The rehabilitation and expansion of the airport passenger terminal building, among others, will truly boost General Santos City’s role as an agro-industrial and eco-tourism hub,” the President said. City Mayor Ronnel Rivera lauded the national government for helping the city realize its dream of having an international-standard airport. Aside from the expanded passenger terminal building, the airport is now capable of accommodating bigger aircraft like Boeing 737 and 747, as well as Airbus A330, A340, and A350. “(What) we are seeing now is a result of multisectoral commitment and dedication in various stages of the airport development, which includes coordination of several initiatives, preparation of the airport master plan, operations, and marketing,” he said. The mayor said the local government will continue to engage with prospective investors and airlines for the opening of more flights to and from the airport and the development of adjacent areas. He cited the proposed establishment of an aerotropolis or growth area centered on the city airport and its surrounding areas. “We are opening a wide array of opportunities, not only on the improvement of our infrastructure facilities but also in terms of investments that will generate more economic opportunities for the city and the entire region (Soccsksargen),” he said. Aside from the inauguration of the airport projects, Tugade also led the unveiling of completed initiatives at the Makar port here. The DOTr said it includes the construction of the Port Operations Building and other vital facilities, which includes a parking area, covered court, port manager’s quarter or Day Care Center, and drainage system. “The improved port of Makar will now offer safer, comfortable, and a more convenient port experience to passengers, while ensuring a faster turnaround for vessels, cargo trucks, and other ancillary service providers,” it said. Article courtesy of the Philippine News Agency
Philippine Resources - September 22, 2021
Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway 83% Complete
Photo credit: Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway As of August 31, 2021, the construction progress of the Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway (CCLEX) project was at 83.84 percent. The P30-billion toll bridge, which will be substantially completed by the end of 2021, will use a full electronic toll system when it opens to motorists in the first quarter of 2022 to enable faster traffic flow and seamless travel. The project recently marked a milestone with the completion of the installation of all 56 stay cables that hold the main bridge deck. On September 11, the Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), through its contractor, installed the last and longest stay cable, which is 219 meters long. The gap on the main bridge, on the other hand, is now down to only two meters before span closure and preparations are underway for the lowering of the form travelers. These form travelers, which weigh 500 tons in each tower, were used to construct the main bridge’s pier table and deck. Also, all 434 NU (Nebraska University) girders for the entire project have already been installed. With this, the mobile launching gantry used to install the girders have been demobilized. At the Cebu South Coastal Road (CSCR) on ramp and off ramp sections of CCLEX, construction of its substructures is complete. Ongoing works are now on the installation of precast planks and the concreting of deck slab. Also finished is the 200-meter pedestrian footbridge beside the CSCR with all six prefabricated steel walkways already installed. The footbridge will start near the U-turn slot of the South Road Properties’ welcome tower and will connect to the on-ramp sidewalk of CCLEX. At the Cebu viaduct, the construction of deck slab is ongoing. The Cordova viaduct, on the other hand, is now structurally complete with its substructure already done. Installation of handrails are underway. At the causeway, embankment works continue to progress with the placing of 20 vent pipes, which equalize the flow of seawater along the Cordova Channel, is finished. Also structurally complete are the four low-level bridges along the causeway, which will provide fishermen continued access to their fishing grounds. Aside from these, works are ongoing for the toll plaza and the CCLEX Operations and Maintenance Center. CCLEX, highlighted by its iconic crosses on top of the twin pylons of the cable-stayed main bridge over the Mactan Channel, is Metro Pacific Tollways Corporation’s (MPTC) first toll road project outside Luzon. CCLEX, which will be the third link to Mactan Island from Cordova Municipality to mainland Cebu through Cebu City’s South Road Properties, has a design speed of 80 kilometers per hour (kph) and a navigational clearance or height of 51 meters to allow large vessels to pass underneath the bridge. Not only is CCLEX seen to reduce traffic and make traveling more convenient but also spur trade activities and open greater economic opportunities for Cebu and the rest of the Visayas region. CCLEX is a project of Cebu Cordova Link Expressway Corporation (CCLEC), in partnership with the local government units of Cebu City and Municipality of Cordova. CCLEC is a wholly owned subsidiary of MPTC, the toll road arm of Metro Pacific Investments Corporation (MPIC), a publicly listed infrastructure holding company and a member of the MVP Group of Companies. MPTC is the largest toll road concessionaire and operator in the Philippines, which expansion goals include establishing toll operations in the Visayas, other parts of the Philippines, and in neighboring countries notably Vietnam, and Indonesia. Article courtesy of Cebu-Cordova Link Expressway