The Truth and Warnings of Taal Volcano’s Eruption

Classes, work schedules, and flights were cancelled due to Taal Volcano’s explosive eruption on the afternoon of January 12 (Sunday), 43 years after its 1977 eruption. Several regions in Southern Luzon, especially Tagaytay and Batangas, experienced heavy ashfall and earthquakes. According to Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) director Renato Solidum, a phreatic eruption was first recorded around 1 p.m., and loud rumbling sounds from the volcano were also heard and felt. By 7:30 p.m., it was followed by a stronger explosion as volcanic activity intensified to continuous eruption with frequent volcanic lighting that caused it to rain wet ash in some parts of Metro Manila, including Quezon City and Caloocan City, prompting PHIVOLCS to raise the alert status to Alert Level 4. A lava fountain was recorded at around 3 a.m. on January 13 (Monday). PHIVOLCS is warning the public about possible threats and asks residents near the area to evacuate.

Areas near Taal Volcano are coated in ash. Photo by: Ezra Acayan

What is a phreatic eruption?

A phreatic eruption or explosion occurs when magma heats groundwater or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma causes evaporation of water to steam, resulting in an explosion of water, ash, rock, and volcanic bombs. It typically includes steam and rock fragments—the inclusion of lava is unusual. 

A scheme of a phreatic eruption: 1: water-vapor cloud, 2: magma conduit, 3: layers of lava and ash, 4: stratum, 5: water table, 6: explosion, 7: magma chamber. Source: Wikipedia

Where is the actual Taal Volcano?

Taal Volcano, or Bulkang Taal, is a complex volcano and the second most active volcano in the Philippines, having 47 craters and 4 maars, located in the province of Batangas. It has had 34 historical eruptions concentrated on Volcano Island, an island near Taal Lake. Taal Volcano is known as one of the attractive views in the country that can be seen from Tagaytay. A geological structure and smaller crater called Binintiang Malaki also lies in Taal Lake which is commonly mistaken as the Taal Volcano. As you can see, the whole island is the actual Taal Volcano and Binintiang Malaki is just one of its 47 craters.

A closer look at Binintiang Malaki. Image source: therealbrute / Flickr
Image source: @acequared

What you should know about the volcano alert levels?

The explosive eruption of Taal Volcano was quickly raised to alert level 4. According to PHIVOLCS, here are the things you need to consider and be aware of when preparing for the possible threats by the Taal eruption. 

Safety reminders, health tips, and emergency hotlines

The Department of Health (DOH), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), and Philippine Red Cross released an advisory warning and safety measures in order to inform the public about what to do before, during, and after the volcanic eruption, as well as its effects on our health and the environment.

The dos and don’ts 

Refrain from spreading fake news and unnecessary information that might cause fear and/or panic in people. Set aside the hugots and memes for a while; may this be a call to action for all of us to do our part for the betterment of the country. Offer any help to our fellow citizens and stray animals in any way that we can. Never hesitate to call out or expose people and businesses or companies who take advantage of the high demand of safety gear like N95 face masks and goggles just to earn profit. Be more responsible, aware, and concerned in these times.

Read the official statement of SM Mall of Asia on their Facebook page

With all the recent chaos around the world, it seems 2020 is off to a rough start. Let’s all hope and pray for the safety of everyone, including animals and natural resources. What is the current situation in your area? Keep safe, everyone!

Header photo credit: Ezra Acayan / Getty Images

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Kayla Ramos

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