Steam-driven eruption observed in Taal Volcano

By Ma. Cristina Arayata

April 12, 2024, 11:13 am

<p>Taal Volcano <em>(Photo from Phivolcs' Facebook page)</em></p>

Taal Volcano (Photo from Phivolcs' Facebook page)

MANILA – Steam-driven or phreatic eruption was observed at the Taal Main Crater early Friday, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said.

In an advisory shared shortly before 10 a.m., the Phivolcs said the eruption was recorded between 5:11 a.m. to 5:24 a.m. and has produced a 2,400-meter plume.

This was likely driven by the continued emission of hot volcanic gases at the Taal Main Crater, and could be succeeded by similar phreatic activity, the advisory added.

Taal Volcano's sulfur dioxide (S02) emission averaged 9,677 tons on April 11. The S02 emission has been consistently high, averaging 10,248 tons per day since January 2024.

Phivolcs, meanwhile, said background levels of volcanic earthquake activity and ground deformation detected at the volcano indicate that unrest is unlikely to progress into magmatic eruption.

Taal Volcano is still on Alert Level 1, indicating an abnormal condition.

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) – Taal's permanent danger zone.

Degassing of high concentrations of volcanic SO2 continues to pose a threat of potential long-term health impacts to communities around Taal Caldera that are frequently exposed to volcanic gas.

As such, Phivolcs reiterated that entry into TVI, especially the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited.

Local government units are also advised to continuously monitor and assess the preparedness of their communities and undertake appropriate response measures to mitigate hazards that could be posed by long-term degassing and related phreatic activity.

Aviation authorities are likewise advised to tell pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from explosions and wind-remobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft. 

The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) in Batangas, meanwhile, called for continued public vigilance.

“There is no indication of eruption… the eruption this morning did not involve magma although there is still another possibility that it will happen again. With this development, everyone must be very vigilant,” PDRRMO head Dr. Amor Calayan told the Philippine News Agency.

Calayan said her team immediately went to the Phivolcs Observatory in Talisay following the phreatic eruption.

The PDRRMO and local DRRMOs have been monitoring the situation 24/7 to ensure the safety of the public since, Calayan assured.

She said tourists are still welcome to explore the province amid the abnormal situation. (With a report from Pot Chavez/PNA)