Alert level 3 hoisted over Taal Volcano amid 'magmatic intrusion'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2021 04:31 PM | Updated as of Jul 01 2021 09:43 PM

Alert level 3 hoisted over Taal Volcano amid 'magmatic intrusion' 1
Taal Volcano emits steam as fisherfolk navigate Taal lake in Talisay, Batangas on June 30, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

NDRRMC: Some 3,500 families up for evacuation

MANILA (2nd UPDATE)— State seismologists on Thursday raised the alert level over the Taal Volcano a notch higher to Level 3, which means there has been "magmatic unrest" at its main crater. 

A 4 p.m. advisory from Phivolcs said there was "magmatic intrusion" at Taal's main crater that may "drive succeeding eruptions." Taal Volcano has a 5-level alert status, with Level 5 indicating hazardous eruption is in progress.

"At 3:16 p.m., the Taal Volcano Main Crater generated a short-lived dark phreatomagmatic plume 1 kilometer-high with no accompanying volcanic earthquake," the advisory read. 

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The agency "strongly" recommended residents who remained on the Taal Volcano Island, as well as barangays in the municipality of Agoncillo and Laurel in Batangas, to evacuate in anticipation of hazards and a possible volcanic tsunami. 

Earlier this week, Phivolcs recorded a high level of sulfur dioxide emitting from the volcano, with its volcanic smog reaching parts of Metro Manila and other provinces north of the country. 

MORE THAN 3,000 FAMILIES AFFECTED

In a public briefing following the eruption, Batangas Governor Hermilando "Dodo" Mandanas said his provincial government is prepared to help residents who were affected by the sudden eruption. 
 
"Nagpadala na kami ng transportation in case of evacuation kung sakaling kailangan talaga," he said.

(We already sent a transportation in case of forced evacuation) 

The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRMMC) said it is "closely monitoring" the situation and had already called an emergency meeting. 

NDRRMC spokesperson Mark Timbal said the council has a contingency plan in place to respond to this situation. 

As of past 6 p.m., 3,523 families or 14,495 individuals from barangays Banyaga and Bilibinwang in the municipality of Agoncillo, and barangays Gulod, Boso-boso, and Lakeshore Bugaan East in the municipality of Laurel have to be evacuated, he said. 

Mariton Bornas, chief of Phivolcs' Volcano Monitoring, Eruption and Prediction division, explained that the situation earlier was different from Taal's eruption in 2020. 

"Depressurized [na] ang magma, nakakapag-degas na po nang dire-diretso at hindi po ito nakakaipon ng gas... Sigurado po tayo na made-detect ng ating seismic network (ang activities ng Taal)," she said.

(The magma is already depressurized, while it has already removed gas continuously, therefore, the gas is no longer saturated. We believe that our seismic network would detect the activities of Taal.)

She also explained what happened during Taal's short-lived phreatomagmatic eruption. 

"Naglabas po ng panandaliang plume... Ito ay typical sa phreatomagmatic eruption.. Ang magma at tubig ng nasa lawa ng crater ay nagdampi. Kaya ang tubig ay biglang na-convert sa gas in the form of water vapor... Sobrang bilis," she said.

(The volcano released a short-lived plume, which is typical in phreatomagmatic eruptions. The magma and water in the crater merged, that's why the water converted into gas in the form of water vapor. It was really quick.)

This led to a shock wave or compression wave in the volcano, thus pulverizing the magma, likening the development to how a steam is formed after water hits a hot object.

Since late May, Taal's main crater has shown continued activity, including the upwelling of hot volcanic fluids that generated plumes thousands of meters high.  

The volcano, which sits on an island surrounded by a lake in Batangas province, had a steam-driven eruption on January 12, 2020, triggering an ash fall that reached parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces.

The eruption displaced more than 700,000 people in Central Luzon, Calabarzon and Metro Manila. 

Damage to infrastructure and agriculture in the provinces of Batangas, Cavite and Laguna was pegged at P3.4 billion

Taal is among 24 active volcanoes in the Philippines and has recorded 33 eruptions since 1572. Its worst eruption was in 1911 where some 1,335 people were killed, data from Phivolcs showed.

- Reports from Job Manahan and Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

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