In 1754, Taal Volcano let forth its biggest eruption to date, an eruption lasting almost 7 months from May to December.
In the first of a two-part special, Rappler recalls the disaster through historical accounts and matches it with a present-day scientist's assessment.
In this second part, Rappler explores the possibility of a 1754 eruption happening today.
TALISAY, Philippines – Imagine a volcano in a state of eruption for almost 7 months. Imagine that volcano in the middle of a lake surrounded by populous towns. Imagine the eruption happening today.
The 1754 eruption of Taal Volcano, its biggest so far, was so devastating that it has become the government's worst-case scenario for the volcano.
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has created hazard maps based on the 1754 eruption, fearing it could happen again.
How likely is that?
"The 1754 eruption, one of the worst case eruptions of Taal Volcano, can be repeated," said Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum Jr.
But it will be difficult to say when.
"See, there is only one 1754 event historically so we cannot say there is a pattern unlike Mount Pinatubo, it last erupted in 1991. Prior to the 1991 eruption, there were many large-scale events, enough data to say the cycle of explosive eruptions of a volcano. But in this case, there's only one 1754 scale," explained Solidum.
The dangers of such an eruption are unique because of Taal Volcano's extraordinary topography.
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.