It has been five days now that Taal Volcano has been troubling residents in Batangas and neighboring areas because of its latest period of eruption which began Sunday, January 12. Following a massive steam-blast eruption that scattered ash-fall and a brief lava fountain display, the status of the complex volcanic system in the middle of Taal Lake has leveled off and even died down, even as the alert level 4 warning of a potentially powerful explosive eruption any day now remains. Even then, the national volcanology agency is debating of finally lowering the alert level. But in the meantime, attention is being directed at the drying up of the lake.
ABS-CBN News has it that the water level in Taal Lake as well as a Batangas river flowing out of it into Balayan Bay has shown drastic reduction following the near week-long eruption of Taal Volcano. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), the reason for the reported drying up of the lake might be attributed to the vaporization of the water due to the high temperatures from the steam-blast eruption since Sunday. PHIVOLCS director Renato Solidum also theorizes that the water level may have been affected by ground deformation due to seismic earthquakes from volcanic activity.
These factors also have an effect on the Pansipit River, a short waterway that normally drains water from Taal Lake into Balayan Bay, Solidum notes that due to the small size of the Pansipit, it will likely mirror any change in the depths of the lake that it is connected to. High temperatures leading to the water being vaporized is a more prominent factor at the moment, due to the appearance of fissures in the lakeside towns of Lemery, Talisay and Agoncillo. These might be brought on by rising magma, which triggers the seismic quakes.
While some signs of Taal Volcano calming down have been noted by PHIVOLCS, the agency continues to urge caution from displaced residents that have begun returning to their homes to check on their properties, crops and livestock. That is because the volcano continues to belch an ash plume which also contains poisonous sulfur dioxide, some 4,100 tons of it daily. This is indicative of rising magma levels as earlier stated, which continues to bode for a later, more explosive eruption as the alert level 4 has warned for days now. While a lowering of the alert level is possible, so long as it remains, the same goes for the danger.
Image courtesy of Manila Bulletin