Taal unrest: 3 phreatomagmatic bursts, 8 quakes logged in past 24 hours —Phivolcs

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 29 2022 02:44 PM | Updated as of Mar 29 2022 03:04 PM

Steam plumes rise from the main crater of Taal Volcano as seen from Barangay Balasi, Talisay, Batangas on July 8, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 
Steam plumes rise from the main crater of Taal Volcano as seen from Barangay Balasi, Talisay, Batangas on July 8, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File 


MANILA — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Tuesday said it recorded 3 more phreatomagmatic bursts and 8 volcanic earthquakes from the Taal Volcano. 

A phreatomagmatic burst happens when molten rock comes into contact with underground or surface water, experts earlier said, likening it to pouring "water on a hot pan". 

Phivolcs said 3 phreatomagmatic bursts between 9:30 and 9:46 a.m. on Monday caused 400 to 800-meter-tall plumes. 

In its 8 a.m. Tuesday bulletin, Phivolcs added that it recorded 8 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours. 

One of the volcanic tremors lasted for 5 minutes, while the remaining 7 were "low-frequency," said the agency. 
 
Taal Volcano, which sits in a picturesque lake south of Manila, exploded with a "short-lived" burst on Saturday, which sent ash and steam hundreds of meters into the sky.

Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum said the activity was weaker than in January 2020, when Taal shot ash 15 kilometers high and spewed red-hot lava, crushing scores of homes, killing livestock and sending tens of thousands into shelters. 

Phivolcs said Taal remained under Alert 3, which meant magmatic intrusion at the main crater "may further drive succeeding eruptions."
 
In its latest bulletin, Phivolcs said activity at the main crater was "dominated by upwelling of hot volcanic fluids in its lake." 

Taal also emitted 4,273 tons of sulfur dioxide on Monday, said Phivolcs. This is lower than the record-high 25,456 tons of sulfur dioxide reported in October last year. 

The Department of Health earlier said inhaling sulfur dioxide is dangerous, especially for people who have respiratory problems. It may also cause skin irritations, bronchitis, mucus secretion, and cough, among others. 

The DOH advised affected residents to stay in their homes and wear face masks to prevent exposure. 

EVACUATION CONTINUES 

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Video courtesy of PTV

Residents in 5 fishing and farming settlements around the lake were ordered to leave their homes, in the third mass evacuation in as many years around one of the country's most active volcanoes.

Taal's unrest has displaced at least 4,974 individuals, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council's (NDRRMC) said in its 10 a.m. report. 

Of this figure, 3,771 people were in 17 evacuation centers, the NDRRMC said. Some 260 families or 1,203 individuals, meanwhile, were staying with friends or relatives in nearby towns, NDRRMC Spokesperson Mark Timbal added. 

Timbal said evacuation was still ongoing in high-risk barangays Bilibinwang, Banyaga, Boso-boso, Gulod, and Bugaan East. 

"Okay naman ang ating kababayan dahil tuloy-tuloy ang pamimigay ng food packs mula sa LGUs. Ang provincial government ng Batangas ay... nakaantabay ang supply sa regional council, pati sa national disaster council," Timbal said in a public briefing. 

(The residents are safe and distribution of food packs is still ongoing. The provincial government is standing by for more supplies.)

He said Phivolcs would monitor the situation for 2 weeks. Local authorities and the NDRRMC are prepared to help affected residents should they stay longer at evacuation centers, said the official. 

"Ang maganda dito, noong 2020 tapos 2021 nagkaroon ng activities itong Taal, napaghandaan na po natin. Mayroong contingency plan for the Taal emergency, at lahat ng leksyon sa operations natin ay na-apply natin ngayon," Timbal said.

(What's good is due to the previous volcanic eruptions in 2020 and 2021, we were able to prepare better. There is a contingency plan and we are applying what we have learned in the past.) 

The Philippines is hit periodically by eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the Pacific "Ring of Fire", a zone of intense seismic activity. 

Access to the volcano island, which was once home to a community of thousands, has been prohibited since the 2020 eruption.

Last July, the seismological agency raised the alert level to 3 after Taal burst to life again. It belched sulphur dioxide for several days, creating a thick haze over the capital and surrounding provinces. 

The alert level was lowered back to 2 before Saturday's eruption. 

 — With a report from Mikhail Flores, Agence France-Presse