Geologist asks: 'Are 2017 Batangas quakes related to Taal Volcano eruption?'

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 13 2020 02:02 PM | Updated as of Jan 13 2020 04:42 PM

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MANILA - Scientists are looking into the possible relation of several Batangas earthquakes in 2017 to the recent eruption of Taal Volcano, a geologist said Monday.

Dr. Mahar Lagmay, director of University of the Philippines Resilience Institute, raised the possibility as he cited the 1990 Luzon earthquake followed by the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo the next year that left hundreds dead.

Two strong quakes were recorded among a swarm of tremors in Batangas between April and August.

"Baka kailangan pag-aralan para makita kung ano relasyon nung 2 lindol na 'yun nung 2017," he told radio DZMM.

"Meron din scientists na sinasabi nung 1990 earthquake, parang meron siyang probable cause na dahilan kung bakit pumutok yung Pinatubo. Tinitingnan natin kung may relasyon yung Batangas earthquakes."

Volcanoes are unpredictable, Lagman said.

"Katulad nito dapat nagrarise gradually, alert level 3 dapat within weeks, ito all within hours from 1 naging four," he said.

Phivolcs officer-in-charge Renato Solidum noted that Mt. Pinatubo's escalation of volcanic activity took months in between alert levels. In comparison, he said Taal's volcanic activity rapidly escalated starting 11 a.m. Sunday. 

He said in terms of explosiveness, Pinatubo's eruption was stronger but Taal's volcanic activity is more dangerous "because there are more people living near the crater." 

Lagmay, meantime, warned the public against possible hazards following Taal Volcano's release of lava and ash such as ash fall, the bulk of which, he said, weighs some 1,000 kilograms.

"'Pag lumapag sa bubong, walisin mo kaagad 'yan. Pag naipon 'yan babagsak," he said.

Lagmay also warned of pyroclastic flow, or "uson" as Bicolanos call it, a mixture of hot rock fragments, hot gases, and entrapped air that moves along the ground.

Other hazards include base surges or expanding rings of turbulent mixture of fragments and gas at the base of explosion columns, lahar or a mixture of pyroclastic material and water, landslide, tsunami, and lava.