Vog over Taal possible on Thursday, Friday

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

November 9, 2023, 8:26 pm

<p>Taal Volcano <em></em><em>(File photo) </em></p>

Taal Volcano (File photo) 

MANILA – Volcanic smog (vog) could form over the Taal region between late Thursday and Friday due to forecast weak wind and degassing of the volcano.

"PAGASA's (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration's) projection suggests that the wind will weaken from later today to tomorrow. This could potentially hinder the dispersion of sulfur dioxide," Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) Director Teresito Bacolcol said in an interview on Thursday.

He added that there is a high likelihood of vog formation "when S02 (sulfur dioxide) is not dispersed effectively."

Vog consists of fine droplets containing volcanic gas, which is acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract in severities, depending on the gas concentrations and durations of the exposure.

In an advisory on Thursday afternoon, Phivolcs said 11,499 tonnes of S02 from the Taal Main Crater was recorded on the same day. This is so far Taal's highest S02 emission this year.

"Taal has been continuously degassing high concentrations of volcanic SO2 since March 2021; emissions since September 2023 have averaged 5,019 tonnes/day," the advisory read.

Continued pronounced upwelling of volcanic fluids in the Main Crater that generated rather short and weak to moderate-volume degassing plumes has also been observed.

Of the 415 volcanic earthquakes recorded since September, 362 were weak volcanic tremors associated with volcanic gas activity.

Phivolcs reminds the public to protect themselves from vog by limiting their exposure and avoiding outdoor activities.

They are also advised to cover their nose, ideally with an N95 mask, and to drink lots of water.

"If belonging to the particularly sensitive group of people above, watch over yourself and seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed, especially if serious effects are experienced," Phivolcs added.

Taal Volcano remains under alert Level 1 (abnormal), which means sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the Taal Volcano Island (TVI) or permanent danger zone.

Entry into TVI, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited, Phivolcs said. (PNA)