Taal Volcano unlikely to erupt despite increased gas emission

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

February 20, 2024, 5:10 pm

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

Taal Volcano (File photo)

MANILA – Taal Volcano in Batangas province is unlikely to erupt despite the high volume of sulfur dioxide (S02) emission observed from its main crater, the head of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Tuesday.

Phivolcs recorded 14,211 tons of S02 emission from Taal on Monday, the second time this year a high flux was observed.

The first and so far the highest in 2024 was 15,145 tons on Jan. 25.

The volcano has been generating an average of 10,000 tons per day since January.

"This (high gas emission) only indicates that degassing activity is continuous. This doesn't indicate an eruption is imminent," Phivolcs Director Teresito Bacolcol said in a televised briefing.

Aside from gas emission, Bacolcol said other parameters to indicate that eruption is likely include the number of volcanic earthquakes recorded per day.

Only one volcanic earthquake was recorded for the past 48 hours.

Bacolcol, however, noted that volcanic smog (vog) is possible.

"As long as Taal Volcano is spewing out S02, there's always a possibility that vog would form," he said.

Factors such as wind strength and temperature also affect vog formation, he added. "Since it is currently windy in the area, so we haven't seen vog yet. The S02 could easily dissipate through rains and strong winds."

The public, especially residents near the Taal Volcano, are advised to wear N95 face masks, he said.

High concentrations of volcanic S02 could cause long-term health impacts to the communities around Taal Caldera frequently exposed to volcanic gas.

The S02 gas could irritate the skin, eyes, nose and throat, while aerosol particles in vog could penetrate the lungs and could induce the symptoms of asthma.

Bacolcol said that if S02 is inhaled, there should be plenty of water intake. Those who have health respiratory conditions, meanwhile, should see medical doctors.

Alert Level 1 (abnormal) is maintained over Taal Volcano, 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 Taal Volcano Island (TVI).

Entry into TVI, especially the vicinities of the main crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited. (PNA)