Steam still coming out of fissures along Taal Volcano tourist trail
MANILA, Philippines – Steam continues to emerge from fissure vents along Taal Volcano's Daang Kastila Trail, said the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Saturday, February 8.
Phivolcs again noted "weak steaming from fissure vents" along Daang Kastila Trail for the second straight day.
The trail, once used by tourists trekking to view Taal's main crater, is now extremely dangerous. (READ: Phivolcs on viral video of man on Taal Volcano Island: 'Maaaring ikamatay')
In the past 24 hours, Phivolcs also observed "moderate emission of white to dirty white steam-laden plumes rising 200 to 300 meters high" from Taal's main crater. These are exactly the same as the plumes described a day ago, on Friday, February 7.
But unlike on Thursday, February 6, when the sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission was too low to be detected by instruments, Phivolcs said it measured SO2 emission at an average of 54 tons per day on Friday. This figure is still relatively low.
SO2 is a major gas component of magma.
Volcanic earthquakes also persist at Taal, indicating that magma continues to move beneath the crater.
In the past 24 hours, the Taal Volcano Network recorded 115 volcanic earthquakes, including 3 low-frequency events. The total figure is only slightly lower than the 118 volcanic earthquakes recorded in the previous 24-hour period.
Low-frequency events are "caused by cracks resonating as magma and gases move toward the surface," according to the United States Geological Survey.
With magma still moving, this "could lead to eruptive activity at the main crater," Phivolcs stressed on Saturday.
Taal has been under Alert Level 3 since January 26, which means the chances of a hazardous eruption are lower, but such an eruption is not being ruled out yet.
Phivolcs reminded the public that the following may happen any moment:
- sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions
- volcanic earthquakes
- lethal volcanic gas expulsions
The highest category is Alert Level 5, which would be raised if a hazardous eruption occurs. (READ: FAST FACTS: Taal Volcano alert levels)
A lockdown is still being enforced in areas in Batangas within a 7-kilometer radius from Taal's main crater. These include:
- Taal Volcano Island
- barangays of Bilibinwang, Subic Ilaya, and Banyaga in Agoncillo
- barangays of Gulod, Buso-Buso, and Bugaan East in Laurel
There have been 133,696 families or 501,908 persons affected as of Saturday, according to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council. They are in Batangas, Quezon, Laguna, and Cavite.
There are 6,206 families or 21,732 persons still staying in evacuation centers.
When a 14-kilometer-radius danger zone was enforced during Alert Level 4, there were as many as over 38,000 families in evacuation centers. (READ: Batangas governor: Funds for Taal Volcano evacuees accounted for) – Rappler.com