Taal spews 'weak, sporadic' lava and ash
Rolando Llanos is on his way to his hut in the middle of Taal lake to retrieve his belongings before going to the evacuation center with his family.
Philstar.com/Efigenio Christopher Toledo

Taal spews 'weak, sporadic' lava and ash

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - January 13, 2020 - 5:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — State volcanologists have observed weak and sporadic lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity from Taal Volcano, sending up tall columns of ash Monday.  

The United States Geological Survey defines a lava fountain as a “jet of lava sprayed into the air by the rapid formation and expansion of gas bubbles in the molten rock.” Hydrovolcanic, meanwhile, refers to volcanic eruptions generated from the interaction of magma and/or lava with water.

In a 4 p.m. update, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Taal’s eruption resumed immediately after a brief waning of activity with lava fountaining and hydrovolcanic activity at the main center that generated two-kilometer steam-laden plumes.

“‘Yung aktibidad ngayon araw mas mababa kaysa kahapon,” Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said.

(There is less activity now than yesterday)

Short lava fountains also emerged from the northern side of Taal—one of the most active volcanoes in the Philippines.

Authorities raised the volcano alert to 4, saying an “explosive eruption” could happen in hours to days.

The provincial government of Batangas declared a state of calamity in the province Monday.

Heavy ashfall

Heavy ashfall from the volcano’s ongoing eruptions has reportedly affected the areas southwest of Taal—the towns of Cuenca, Lemery and Taal in Batangas. Residents of these areas are advised to be prepared for the effects of heavy and prolonged ashfall.

“Fine ashfall can cause irritation and breathing problems especially among the elderly and children. Long-term exposure may be harmful to respiratory health,” Phivolcs said.

Those living in areas affected by ashfall have also experienced sulphurous smell, which can cause irritation.

“Affected populations are advised to avoid inhalation of ash and use N95-grade facemasks or wet cloth or towel when going outdoors. Motorists are advised to drive with extreme caution as ash can cause poor visibility, and, when wet, can make roads slippery,” Phivolcs said.

Supplies of surgical masks as well as the N95 masks recommended against the hazardous ashfall are running low as ash continues to pour over parts of Luzon.

Volcanic earthquakes

Phivolcs also recorded 144 volcanic earthquakes in the Taal region since Sunday afternoon.

Forty-four of these tremors were felt with intensities ranging from Intensity I (scarcely perceptible) to V (strong) in Tagaytay City, and Alitagtag, Lemery, Santo Tomas in Batangas.

“Such intense seismic activity probably signifies continuous magma intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity,” the agency said.

Civil aviation authorities must advise aircraft to avoid airspace around the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose threat to aircrafts.

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