Magma may drive 'explosive' Taal Volcano eruption, Phivolcs says

Magma may drive 'explosive' Taal Volcano eruption, Phivolcs says
This aerial photograph taken on June 24, 2021 shows the Taal volcano crater.

MANILA, Philippines — State volcanologists warned Friday that magma rising toward the main crater of Taal Volcano in Batangas could cause an “explosive eruption.”  

“At Alert Level 3, magma extruding from the main crater could drive explosive eruption,” Phivolcs said in a bulletin.

Taal Volcano was placed under Alert Level 3 Thursday following a short-lived phreatomagmatic eruption that generated a one-kilometer plume.

This was followed by four short phreatomagmatic bursts that occurred Thursday evening and produced short jetted plumes. These bursts lasted not longer than two minutes.

In an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo, Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said a major eruption is not expected at the moment although close monitoring is still needed due to the threat of magma rising to the surface.

“We are not seeing that based on our monitoring since gases have already been released. But we should still monitor it,” he said.

Earthquakes, vog

Phivolcs said the Taal Volcano Network recorded 29 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours, including one explosion-type earthquake, 22 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes, and two volcanic tremor events.

It recorded high levels of sulfur dioxide emission, which averaged 13,287 tons per day on Thursday. Volcanic smog or vog was also observed over Taal Volcano and vicinity.

“Communities around the Taal Lake shores are advised to remain vigilant, take precautionary measures against possible airborne ash and vog, and calmly prepare for possible evacuation  should unrest intensify,” Phivolcs said.

The agency said that entry into the Taal Volcano Island as well as into the high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel must be prohibited due to the hazards of pyroclastic density currents—or hot, fast moving "clouds" of ash, gas, and rock debris—and volcanic tsunami should strong eruptions occur.

Thousands evacuated

In a message to reporters, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council spokesperson Mark Timbal, citing the report of the disaster office in Batangas, said 345 families composed of 1,392 individuals have been evacuated.

Broken down, 317 families composed of 1,282 people went to 11 evacuation centers in the province, while 28 families composed of 110 individuals sought refuge in other safe places.

Here is a list of affected barangays:

  • San Nicolas: Poblacion, Sinturisan
  • Laurel: Gulod, Buso Buso, Bugaan West, Bugaan East
  • Agoncillo: Subic Ilaya, Banyaga, Bilibinwang
  • Taal: Apacay
  • Tanauan City: Luyos, Boot
  • Balete: San Sebastian

In an interview on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo, Mayor Joan Amo of Laurel town said over 4,000 residents have been evacuated. They were brought to higher areas in the town.

Amo acknowledged the difficulty of observing physical distancing in temporary shelters. But isolation areas were set up in evacuation centers and the “one family per tent” rule was implemented, she added. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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