Restive Taal volcano under tight watch — Phivolcs

GOVERNMENT volcanologists are closely monitoring Taal Volcano in Batangas province after it recorded 175 volcanic earthquakes in the past 24 hours which may lead to an eruption.

Renato Solium, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) chief, told The Manila Times that although only Alert Level 2 has been raised, “if the current activity persists, this can lead to an eruption”.

A higher alert is raised when monitored parameters indicate significant changes, the Phivolcs chief said but did not elaborate.

In the past 24-hours, the Taal Volcano Network (TVN) recorded 175 volcanic earthquakes, including 131 episodes of volcanic tremor having durations of one to 15 minutes, Phivolcs said.

“Ground deformation parameters from electronic tilt, continuous data analysis indicated a very slow and steady inflation and expansion of the Taal region since after the January 2020 eruption. These parameters may indicate increased magmatic activity at shallow depths beneath the edifice,” Solidum said.

On March 9, Phivolcs raised Alert Level 2 in the area of the volcano because of its increasing unrest.

This means that there was “probable magmatic activity that may or may not lead to an eruption”, Solidum had said.

Though evacuation was not yet recommended, Solidum said that the public has been reminded that Taal Volcano Island (TVI) was a permanent danger zone (PDZ) “and that entry into TVI, especially in the vicinities of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure must remain strictly prohibited”.

It called on civil aviation authorities to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and wind-mobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft.

The Phivolcs chief said local government units near TVI were also advised to continuously assess previously evacuated villages around the volcano for damage and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest.

“Residents of these villages are advised to be always prepared, to keep calm and listen to information only from trusted or verified sources,” Solidum said.