MANILA, Philippines – Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission from Taal Volcano has spiked again, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said on Wednesday, August 3.
Phivolcs recorded 12,125 tons per day of SO2 from Taal on Wednesday morning, the highest since the volcano in Batangas was downgraded to Alert Level 1 on July 11.
Since July 15, SO2 emission has averaged 4,952 tons per day, higher than the average of 1,289 tons per day recorded between May and mid-July.
SO2 is a major gas component of magma.
Amid the spike, Phivolcs said volcanic smog or vog was observed on Tuesday, August 2, and on Wednesday in these areas:
- western part of the Taal Caldera
- Laurel, Batangas
- Barangay Banyaga, Agoncillo, Batangas
Damage to vegetation was also documented in the municipality of Agoncillo, while residents of Tagaytay City and residents of Barangay Bugaan East in the municipality of Laurel reported smelling sulfur.
Phivolcs reminded the public that vog can irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract. People with respiratory or heart ailments, the elderly, pregnant women, and children may be particularly vulnerable to its effects.
The agency gave the following tips:
- Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows.
- Cover nose, ideally with an N95 face mask.
- Drink plenty of water to reduce any throat irritation or constriction.
- If belonging to any of the sensitive groups mentioned, seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed.
In the past three days, Phivolcs also observed upwelling in the Main Crater Lake and “voluminous” steam-rich plumes. Upwelling refers to the rising of volcanic fluids.
There were also 9 low-frequency volcanic earthquakes in the most recent observation period, “more than the baseline level of volcanic earthquakes.”
Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 1, but it could be raised back to Alert Level 2 if unrest escalates.
Under Alert Level 1, the following may still occur:
- sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions
- volcanic earthquakes
- minor ashfall
- lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas
Phivolcs reiterated that entry into Taal Volcano Island “must remain strictly prohibited.”
The agency advised local government units to strengthen preparedness measures as well. – Rappler.com
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