Phivolcs: Taal still a threat with ‘magma resupply’

January 20, 2020
Taal volcano
An aerial view shows the Taal volcano in Batangas province yesterday. AFP / Ed JONES

CNN PHILIPPINES —  All signs point to more magma movement in Taal Volcano, over a week since its steam- and ash-laden eruption, state volcanologists said yesterday.

Taal Volcano may look calm on the outside with only infrequent weak explosions generated in the past 24 hours, but Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said there is activity brewing underneath the volcano. Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum said they have seen a resupply of molten rocks underneath Taal, warning it may lead to more a dangerous volcanic activity.

“There is resupply of magma from below based on earthquakes and ground deformation. The resupply is feeding into beneath the Taal Volcano Island. There might be additional activity in Taal Volcano,” told CNN Philippines.

Over 600 volcanic tremors have been recorded from Sunday to Monday, signifying magma is moving. However, Solidum said the frequency of stronger earthquakes has slightly decreased.

Solidum added there is now a higher concentration of emitted sulfur dioxide (SO2), which means magma is actively degassing beneath Taal. Phivolcs has measured an average of 4,353 tonnes of SO2 per day. It is a major gas component of magma, which is released by a volcano when magma is relatively near the surface.

The chief volcanologist said they also observed inflation of the volcano, which is consistent to the ascent of magma due to pressure.

“The interaction of magma with water can actually cause explosions,” he said.

Eruption threat Alert Level 4 remains hoisted over the volcano as a hazardous and explosive eruption is possible within hours or days.

“If we now look at the condition of the volcano, it somewhat simmered but the threat is still there,” Solidum said.

Residents within the 14-kilometer danger zone are told to stay away from the volcano as an eruption is imminent. Office of Civil Defense Administrator Ricardo Jalad said they are still implementing the lockdown on Taal’s designated dangerous zone, which covers 14 areas in Batangas and Cavite.

Over 200,000 individuals have been displaced since Taal’s steam-laden eruption on January 12. Around 104,000 individuals are staying in designated evacuation centers.