One year ago, Taal Volcano erupted, covering communities surrounding its lake and beyond with ash. The inconvenience of the calamity was only more pronounced several weeks later when the COVID pandemic triggered the community quarantines. Taal has been relatively quiet since then. Residents of the Volcano Island even returned eventually. Then last February the fears of the past seemed to return when seismic activity was detected, leading to a precautionary evacuation of the Taal residents once more. It was hoped that the detected tremors were a one-off phenomenon. Unfortunately they persisted enough that an increase in alert level was warranted.
Inquirer.net reports that the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) have raised the alert level for Taal Volcano. As of 8 AM this Tuesday, March 9, the complex volcano system in the middle of Taal Lake at Batangas is now at Alert Level 2. It indicates the increasing unrest in the location, which included 28 volcanic tremors on February 13, indicative of possible magma or hydrothermal activity. It should be recalled that these tremors were what spurred the Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) to again evacuate the people living on Volcano Island on February 16.
“Volcanic tremors have increased seismic energy compared to previously recorded episodes and ranged between three to 17 minutes in duration,” noted PHIVOLCS in its report, elaborating that the total amount of volcanic-related tremors since Feb. 13 is now 866. Also concerning is a recorded new increase in temperature and acidity with the waters of Taal’s Main Crater Lake, which the state agency explains is due to volcanic gas starting to enter the lake anew through the hydrothermal system. All in all, the Level 2 alert means the volcano has moved from “not likely to erupt” to “may or may not erupt soon” in possible status.
For the moment, PHIVOLCS is not yet recommending evacuation of the communities ringing the Taal lakeshore, although it does reiterate that the Volcano Island and especially the Main Crater Lake is a permanent danger zone.
Image courtesy of ABS-CBN News