At 8 AM today, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the alert level of the Taal Volcano in Batangas. From alert level 1 which had been over the volcano for the past few months, the country’s seismology experts have decided to raise it to alert level 2 due to the increased activity on the island.
“Since 13 February 2021, Taal Volcano has been exhibiting increased unrest,” PHIVOLCS said in their bulletin this morning. They explained that the parameters used as a basis for the change in alert level are volcanic earthquakes, changes in the main crater lake (MCL), ground deformation, and microgravity changes.
“Local government units are advised to continuously assess previously evacuated barangays around Taal Lake for damages and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency, and communication measures in case of renewed unrest,” PHIVOLCS said. (Read: Pope Sends Prayers to Victims of Indonesia Earthquake)
PHIVOLCS also stated that while the unrest may or may not lead to an eruption, residents in the area and nearby cities and provinces are still in possible danger as the Taal Volcano erupted early last year.
In January last year, residents of Batangas and nearby provinces and cities were stunned when ash rained down and covered their roofs, cars, and even the roads. It was later found that the Taal Volcano had been spewing out ash columns tens of meters high, affecting many surrounding areas. (Read: Taal Volcano’s ashes are being turned into bricks for building facilities)
According to PHIVOLCS, what occurred was a phreatic eruption— a kind of eruption “driven by the steam that triggers a steam emission to reach the surface.” They added that a phreatic eruption can be an antecedent for an eruption, but there are cases where no eruption happened.
Now, as the alert level for the Taal Volcano is increased, PHIVOLCS is advising residents and local government units to take precautions and be prepared for any eventuality. Evacuation is not yet recommended, but they reiterate that no one can enter the Taal Volcano Island as it is a Permanent Danger Zone.