JANUARY 13, 2020 – The state seismologist agency on Monday warned of a possible prolonged eruption in Taal volcano in a “worst case” scenario as it continued to study the country’s second most active volcano after it showed signs of a hazardous eruption.
In its 1754 eruption, it took more than six months for Taal volcano to quiet down after a similar explosive eruption, said Mariton Bornas of the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).
Several towns in Batangas were affected and relocated during the 1754 eruption.
One of the towns is the now the city of Tanauan, which was relocated around 40 kilometers eastward, leading to the creation of a new town named Talisay in its abandoned site.
Bornas said there is a possibility of an even larger explosion eruption as the agency has raised alert to level 4 on Sunday.
“Pwedeng lumakas, nag-e-escalate into very explosive climactic phases,” Bornas told reporters. “Hindi naman diri-diretso, nagpapahinga rin ang bulkan nagre-recharge.”
Bornas said base surges, a type of pyroclastic density currents, are among the volcanic hazards to watch out for.
Pyroclastic density currents are defined as mixtures of fragmented volcanic particles, hot gases, and ash that rush down the volcanic slopes or rapidly outward from a source vent, according to PHIVOLCS website.
Base surges are generated by explosive phreatomagmatic eruptions.
“Taal is one of the first earliest volcanos na nawitness ‘yung ganitong volcanic phenomena,” she said. “So kumalakalat ‘yan, masyadong malakas ang momentum nakakatawid ‘yan ng lawa.”
More than 10,000 have already fled to safety at various temporary shelters in Batangas and Cavite, based on government data early this morning.
President Rodrigo Duterte had also ordered security forces to evacuate tens of thousands within the 14-km radius from Taal and take them out of the danger zone.
Taal Volcano has been under alert level 4 since Sunday night after spewing ash in a phreatic eruption, affecting airport operations and prompting suspension of work and classes in several cities and municipalities in Central Luzon, CALABARZON region, and Metro Manila. Alert level 4 means hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.
Trading at the stock exchange were also halted, hundreds of flights were grounded and were also diverted.
PHIVOLCS said it is too early to predict if the alert level will be raised in the following days.
The Manila International Airport Authority and Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines have partially resumed airport operations beginning 10 a.m. for departures, and arrivals by 12 noon today. This will be subject to terminal capacity of the 4 terminals of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, aviation officials said in a statement.
Disaster and health officials advised the public to remain alert and take measures to protect themselves from the hazardous effects of the ashfall from the volcano. Ashfall has blanketed parts of Batangas and Cavite, and reportedly reached cities in Metro Manila. (Karen Macalalad/MM)