Skip to main content

Extreme rainfall-induced lahars and dike breaching, 30 November 2006, Mayon Volcano, Philippines


On 29–30 November 2006, heavy rains from Supertyphoon Durian remobilized volcanic debris on the southern and eastern slopes of Mount Mayon, generating major lahars that caused severe loss of life and property in downstream communities. The nearby Legaspi City weather station recorded 495.8 mm of rainfall over 1.5 days at rates as high as 47.5 mm/h, far exceeding the initiation threshold for Mayon lahars. For about 18 h, floods and lahars from the intense and prolonged rainfall overtopped river bends, breaching six dikes through which they created new paths, buried downstream communities in thick, widespread deposits, and caused most of the 1,266 fatalities. In order to mitigate damage from future lahars, the deposits were described and analyzed for clues to their generation and impact on structures and people. Post-disaster maps were generated from raw ASTER and SPOT images, using automated density slicing to characterize lahar deposits, flooded areas, croplands, and urbanized areas. Fieldwork was undertaken to check the accuracy of the maps, especially at the edges of the lahar deposits, and to measure the deposit thicknesses. The Durian event was exceptional in terms of rainfall intensity, but the dikes eventually failed because they were designed and built according to flood specifications, not to withstand major lahars.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3
Fig. 4
Fig. 5
Fig. 6
Fig. 7
Fig. 8
Fig. 9
Fig. 10
Fig. 11
Fig. 12


  • Arboleda R, Martinez M (1996) 1992 lahars in the Pasig-Potrero River system. In: Newhall C, Punongbayan R (eds) Fire and mud: eruptions and lahars of Mount Pinatubo. Philippine Inst Volcanol Seismol, Quezon City, pp 1045–1052

    Google Scholar 

  • Arguden AT, Rodolfo KS (1990) Sedimentologic and dynamic differences between hot and cold laharic debris flows of Mayon Volcano, Philippines. Geol Soc Am Bull 102:865–876

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Bagnold RA (1954) Experiments on a gravity-free dispersion of large solid spheres in a Newtonian fluid under shear. Proc R Soc London Ser A 225:49–63

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Balducci V (2007) Rainfall thresholds for the initiation of landslides. Accessed September 23, 2007

  • Collins BD, Dunne T (1986) Erosion of tephra from the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. Geol Soc Am Bull 97:896–905

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Costa JE (1984) Physical geomorphology of debris flows. In: Costa JE, Fleisher PJ (eds) Developments and applications of geomorphology. Springer, Berlin, pp 269–317

    Google Scholar 

  • Daido A (1985) Effect of volcanic ash on occurrence of mud-debris flows. In: Proceedings of International Symposium on erosion, debris flows and disaster prevention. Tsukuba, Toshinto Printers, pp 250–260

  • Hampton MA (1975) Competence in fine-grained debris flows. J Sed Petrol 45:834–844

    Google Scholar 

  • Hampton MA (1979) Buoyancy in debris flows. J Sed Petrol 49:753–758

    Google Scholar 

  • Ikeya H (1989) Debris flow and its countermeasures in Japan. Bull Int Assoc Eng 40:15–33

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lavigne F, Thouret JC, Voight B, Suwa H, Sumaryono A (2000a) Lahar at Merapi Volcano, Central Java: an overview. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 100:423–253

    Google Scholar 

  • Lavigne F, Thouret JC, Voight B, Young K, Lahusen R, Marso J, Suwa H, Sumaryono A, Sayudi DS, Dejean M (2000b) Instrumental lahar monitoring at Merapi Volcano, Central Java, Indonesia. J Volcanol Geothermal Res 100:457–478

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Lewis DW, McConchie D (1994) Analytical sedimentology. Chapman & Hall, New York

    Google Scholar 

  • Major JJ, Pierson TC (1992) Debris flow rheology: experimental analysis of fine-grained slurries. Water Res Res 28:841–857

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Middleton GV, Hampton MA (1976) Subaqueous sediment transport and deposition by sediment gravity flows. In: Stanley DJ, Swift DJP (eds) Marine sediment transport and environmental management. New York, Wiley, pp 197–218

    Google Scholar 

  • Mitzuyama T, Kobashi S, Ou G (1992) Prediction of debris flow peak discharge. Proc Interprevent Int Symp (Bern) 4:99–108

    Google Scholar 

  • Newhall CG (1977) Geology and petrology of Mayon Volcano (MS Thesis): Davis, California, University of California, 292 p

  • Newhall CG (1979) Temporal evolution of the lavas of Mayon Volcano, Southeastern Luzon, Philippines. J Volcanol Geothermal V 6:61–83

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Okunishi K, Suwa H (1985) Hydrological approach to debris flow. In: Proceedings of the International Symposium on Erosion, Debris Flow and Disaster Prevention, pp 243–247

  • Okunishi K, Suwa H, Hamana S (1988) Hydrological controls of erosion and sediment transport in volcanic torrents. Hydrol Sci J 33:575–587

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • PAGASA (2006) Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Atmospheric Services Rainfall archive. Data record

  • Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (2008) Mayon Volcano. Accessed 11 February 2008

  • Phillips CJ, Davies TRH (1991) Determining rheological parameters of debris flow material. Geomorphology 4:101–110

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pierson TC (1981) Dominant particle support mechanism in debris flows at Mount Thomas, New Zealand and implications for flow mobility. Proc 1985 Geomorphol Symp 18:49–60

    Google Scholar 

  • Pierson TC (1998) An empirical method for estimating travel times for wet volcanic mass flows. Bull Volcanol 60:98–109

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Pierson TC, Costa JE (1987) A rheologic classification of subaerial sediment-water flows. In: Costa JE, Wieczorek GF (eds) Debris flows/avalanches—process, recognition, and mitigation: Rev Eng Geology 7:1–12

  • Pierson TC, Scott KM (1985) Downstream dilution of a lahar: transition from debris flow to hyperconcentrated streamflow. Water Res Res 21:1511–1524

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Punongbayan RS, Ruelo HB (1985) Profile morphology and internal structure of Mayon Volcano. Philippine J Volcanol 2 (1 & 2)

  • Qian Y, Wenhai Y, Wenlin Z, Xiuwen C, Longrong Z, Wengui X (1980) Basic characteristics of flow with hyperconcentration of sediment. In: Boning L (ed) Proc Int Symp River Sedimentation. Beijing, Guanghua, pp 175–184

    Google Scholar 

  • Rabonza G (2006) Philippines: NDCC media update-Typhoon Reming (Durian). Technical Report. Office of Civil Defense

  • Ramos-Villarta S, Corpuz E, Newhall C (1985) Eruptive history of Mayon volcano, Philippines. Philippine J Volcanol 2:1–35

    Google Scholar 

  • Rodolfo K (1989) Origin and early evolution of lahar channel at Mabinit, Mayon Volcano, Philippines. Geol Soc Amer Bull 101:414–426

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Rodolfo K, Arguden A (1991) Rain-lahar generation and sediment-delivery systems at Mayon Volcano, Philippines. In: Fisher R, Smith G (eds) Sedimentation in volcanic settings. Soc Econ Paleontol Mineral Spec Pub 45, pp 71–87

  • Rodolfo K, Umbal J, Alonso R, Remotigue C, Melosantos M, Salvador J, Evangelista D, Miller Y (1996) Two years of lahars on the western flank of Mount Pinatubo: initiation, flow processes, deposits, and attendant geomorphic and hydraulic changes. In: Newhall C, Punongbayan R (eds) Fire and mud: eruptions and lahars of Mount Pinatubo, pp 989–1013. Philippine Inst Volcanol Seismol, Quezon City, pp 989–1013

  • Segerstrom K (1950) Erosion studies at Paricutin volcano, State of Michoacan, Mexico: US Geol Surv Bull 956-A:164

  • Smith GA, Lowe DR (1991) Lahars: Volcano-hydrologic events and deposition in the debris flow—hyperconcentrated flow continuum. In: Fisher RV, Smith G (eds) Sedimentation in Volcanic Settings. Soc Econ Paleontol Mineral Spec Pub 45, pp 59–70

  • Sutikno H, Sakatani (1993) Present conditions of mudflow forecasting and warning system in the area of Merapi, Central Java. First Seminar on Sabo Engineering, Sabo Technical Center, Yogyakarta, 17–20 February 1993, pp 1–17

  • Suwa H, Sumaryono A (1995) Sediment transportation by storm runoff at the Bebeng river on Mount Merapi. Proceedings of Workshop on erosion control through volcanic hydrological approach (WECVHA), Sabo Technical Center, Yogyakarta, 10–11 January 1995, pp 106–107

  • Task Group for the International Decade of Natural Disaster Reduction (1990) Report. Bull Volc Soc Japan Ser 2: 35: pp 80–95

  • Tungol N, Regalado M (1996) Rainfall, acoustic flow monitor records, and observed lahars of the Sacobia River in 1992. In: Newhall C, Punongbayan R (eds) Fire and mud: eruptions and lahars of Mount Pinatubo. University of Washington Press, Seattle, pp 1045–1052

    Google Scholar 

  • Umbal JV (1986) Mayon lahars during and after the 1984 eruption. Philippine J Volcanol 3:38–59

    Google Scholar 

  • Umbal JV, Rodolfo KS (1996) The 1991 lahars of southwestern Mount Pinatubo. Philippines and the evolution of a lahar-dammed lake: pp 951–970. In: Newhall C, Punongbayan R (eds) Fire and mud: eruptions and lahars of Mount Pinatubo. Philippine Inst of Volcanol Seismol, Quezon City, pp 1045–1052

    Google Scholar 

  • Van Westen CJ, Daag AS (2005) Analyzing the relationship between rainfall characteristics and lahar activity at Mount Pinatubo, Philippines. Earth Surf Process Landf 30:1663–1674

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Waldron HW (1967) Debris flow and erosion control problems caused by the ash eruptions of the Irazu volcano, Costa Rica. US Geol Surv Bull 1241-I:37

    Google Scholar 

  • White JDL (1991) The depositional record of small, monogenetic volcanoes within terrestrial basins. In: Fisher RV, Smith G (eds) Sedimentation in volcanic settings. Soc Econ Paleontol Mineral, Spec Pub 45: pp 155–171

Download references


This work was supported as part of the project, “Monitoring the Impacts of Disaster Risk in Albay Province: Towards Risk-sensitive Development” in collaboration with The Manila Observatory and The Luis A. Yulo Foundation for Sustainable Development and Christian Aid and Oxfam Great Britain, our funders. Cristina Remotigue, Catherine Abon, Christine Bellen and Margaret Louise Honrado provided invaluable field assistance. Finally, we acknowledge the careful editing of James DL White and the thorough reviews by Vernon Manville and Thomas Pierson.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to E. M. R. Paguican.

Additional information

Editorial responsibility: J. White.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Paguican, E.M.R., Lagmay, A.M.F., Rodolfo, K.S. et al. Extreme rainfall-induced lahars and dike breaching, 30 November 2006, Mayon Volcano, Philippines. Bull Volcanol 71, 845–857 (2009).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:


  • Supertyphoon Durian (Reming)
  • Mayon Volcano
  • Lahar
  • Dike breaching
  • Rainfall
  • SPOT