By Ellalyn de Vera-Ruiz
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) recorded 182 volcanic earthquakes at Taal Volcano from Friday to Saturday, signs of continuous magmatic activity that could still lead to a possible eruption.
Based on the Phivolcs bulletin on Saturday, wispy to weak emissions of white steam-laden plumes that reached 50 meters high and drifted southwest were observed from Taal Volcano’s main crater in the past 24 hours.
The Taal Volcano network recorded a slightly higher number of volcanic earthquakes, from 116 volcanic earthquakes last Friday to 182 tremors on Saturday, including one low-frequency event and one harmonic tremor that lasted three minutes.
Alert Level 3 remains in effect over Taal Volcano, which means that sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ash fall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten areas on Taal Volcano Island and nearby lakeshores.
Phivolcs recommended that entry into Taal Volcano island, Taal Lake, and communities west of the volcano island within a 7-kilometer radius from the main crater be strictly prohibited.
Local government units were advised to assess areas outside the seven-kilometer radius for damage and road accessibilityand to strengthen preparedness, contingency, and communication measures in case of renewed unrest.
People were also advised to observe precautions due to ground displacement across fissures, frequent ash fall, and minor earthquakes.
Communities beside active river channels, particularly where ash from the main eruption phase has been thickly deposited, should increase vigilance when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall because the ash can be washed away and form lahar along the channels.
Likewise, civil aviation authorities were asked to advise pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and wind-remobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft.