The Philippines holds claim to having one of the most uniquely formed and therefore picturesque complex volcano structures in the world. That would be Taal Volcano in Batangas, located within the same-named Taal Lake, the volcanic island with its crater lake tends to be calm enough on most years, but when volcanic activity does spike, it has a tendency to be very fierce, likely hazardous, and potentially deadly. That has not stopped people from settling on Taal’s island to fish and farm despite it being classified as a permanent danger zone not fit for long-term residences. This Sunday, Taal reminded people why it was dangerous.
As ABS-CBN News has it, Taal Volcano underwent a strong eruption late this past Sunday, January 12, as recorded by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS). The national volcano and earthquake bureau had recorded an intensifying of volcanic activity on Taal at about 5:30 in the afternoon yesterday, with local residents being treated to a towering white column of steam and ash that dominated the skies in Batangas. Measurements by PHIVOLCS reckon that the tephra column stood 15 kilometers into the air, generating volcanic lightning and causing wet ash to fall down as far away as Quezon City.
By Sunday night PHIVOLCS has raised the Taal Volcano eruption to an Alert Level 4. This indicates the high possibility of an explosive eruption anywhere from hours to days within this week. Such an event would be considered very hazardous, especially to those living on the volcano island that are now being advised to evacuate immediately, along with anyone else within a 14-kilometer radius from the Taal island caldera. This is necessary due to the likelihood that the impending large eruption would trigger Taal Lake to cause a volcanic tsunami.
With the impending ash-fall from Taal’s latest eruption phase, classes have been suspended this Monday, January 13, throughout Batangas, nearby Cavite, and even in parts of Metro Manila. And on that note, the Ninoy Aquino International Airport has also been forced to put all inbound and outbound flights on hold. In the meantime, the dangers of possible health problems that could be triggered and aggravated by the falling ash from Taal Volcano has also been brought to light by a warning from the Department of Health. They are advising people to stay indoors, or put on masks and goggles if they have to go outside.
All volcanoes in the Philippines are part of the Pacific Ring of Fire, which is the primary cause of eruptions and seismological disturbances in the entire region and the countries that fall under its zone. Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines after Mayon volcano in Bicol.
Image courtesy of CNN Philippines