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/
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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 email@example.com.
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Philippine Resources - June 10, 2023
DMCI Mining Targets 1.5 Million WMT Nickel Ore Shipment in 2023
Photo Credit: dmcihouse.net DMCI Mining Corporation is targeting to ship 1.5 million wet metric tons (WMT) of nickel ore in 2023, after its subsidiary Zambales Diversified Metals Corporation (ZDMC) was granted an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) in January to produce 2 million WMT of nickel ore. Prior to the ECC issuance, ZDMC was only allowed to extract 1 million WMT. “We have the necessary facilities and mitigating measures to minimize the impact of our operations on the environment. With these in place, we’re targeting to produce anywhere between 1.7 million to 2 million tons of nickel ore this year,” said DMCI Mining president Tulsi Das C. Reyes. From January to March, ZDMC nickel ore production soared by 88 percent from 318,000 WMT to 599,000 WMT, its highest-ever quarterly output. This led to a 16-percent improvement in total inventory, from 154,000 WMT to 178,000 WMT. However, total shipment declined by 21 percent from 620,000 WMT to 487,000 WMT owing to the depletion of the BNC mine and stockpile, cushioned by the double-digit growth of ZDMC shipment. Average selling price increased by 11 percent from USD44 to USD49 owing to higher Zambales shipments of higher-grade nickel ore. Despite the mine and stockpile depletion of Berong, DMCI Mining standalone revenues narrowly declined (-8%) from P1.4 billion to P1.3 billion due to better selling prices while reported net income contracted by 15 percent from P543 million to P463 million.
Philippine Resources - June 10, 2023
DMCI Power to build wind facility in Semirara Island
Leading off-grid electricity generator DMCI Power Corporation (DPC) is set to build a wind power plant in Semirara Island, home of the biggest coal reserve in the Philippines. DPC intends to finalize the wind power capacity in the coming months, with projections ranging from 8 to 12 MW, and operational implementation expected within 12 to 15 months. The project will be funded and undertaken independently by the company. “We are also looking at solar energy to augment the supply in the island, but we are prioritizing wind resource development because it has shown the most promise,” said DPC president Antonino E. Gatdula, Jr. “Current studies suggest that wind power could potentially deliver a 33% plant utilization rate, compared to just 17% for solar. Capital expenditure per megawatt for both wind and solar projects are also roughly the same,” he explained. In a 2001 wind resource study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), a United States Department of Energy (DOE) laboratory, it was found that Semirara Island has some of the best wind resources in the Philippines. The wind corridors between Luzon and Panay (including Semirara Islands and extending to the Cuyo Islands) were found to have good-to-excellent wind power density and speed for utility-scale or village power applications. DPC is in the process of validating these wind resource estimates to determine the final location and capacity of its wind project.
Philippine Resources - June 05, 2023
Semirara Mining and Power Corporation eyes Japanese market expansion
Photo credit: Bilyonaryo Integrated energy company Semirara Mining and Power Corporation (SMPC) is set to make its second trial shipment to Japan this June, in a bid to reduce its dependency on the Chinese market. The company will export 50,000 metric tons (MT) of Semirara coal to Shikoku Electric Power Corporation for its 700-megawatt coal fired ultra-supercritical power station. “China is still our main foreign buyer but with their industrial output growing slower than expected, we want to develop other Asian markets like Japan,” said SMPC president and COO Maria Cristina C. Gotianun. From January to March, Semirara coal shipments to China plunged by 50 percent from 2.2 million MT to 1.1 million MT, accounting for 72 percent of exports. South Korea was a steady market at 300,000 MT, representing one-fifth of export sales. The rest of the exports went to Japan (5%) and Brunei (3%). SMPC first made a trial shipment to Japan in January 2023, selling 78,410 MT of mid-grade coal to J-Power, a utility company that operates coal, hydroelectric, wind and geothermal power stations. “For 2023, we are targeting to export around 30 percent of our full-year sales target of 15 to 16 million MT,” added Gotianun. In the first quarter, standalone coal revenues sank by 40 percent from P25.7 billion to P15.5 billion mainly due to high base effect of record production, shipments and selling prices. Standalone reported net income slumped by 51 percent from P14.2 billion to P7 billion on topline weakness and slower decline in cash costs.
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