PHIVOLCS lowers Taal Volcano status to Alert Level 3By ERWIN COLCOL,GMA News
The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) on Sunday morning downgraded the status of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 3 from Alert Level 4.
This means that there is a "decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption" by the volcano.
In a press conference at the Batangas Provincial Sports Complex, PHIVOLCS said the decreasing activity monitored in the Taal Volcano over the past two weeks since it erupted on January 12 has contributed to the lowering of its alert level.
"Taal Volcano’s condition in the two weeks following the January 12 to 13, 2020 phreato-magmatic eruption or main eruptive phase has generally declined into less frequent volcanic activity, decelerated ground deformation of the Taal Volcano caldera and Taal Volcano island, edifice, and weak steam gas emissions from the main crater," PHIVOLCS said.
According to PHIVOLCS, significant earthquakes recorded by the Philippine Seismic Network between January 12 to 24 has decreased from 959 to 27 events per day with peaked magnitudes of 4.1 to 2.1.
Meanwhile, the Taal Volcano Network which directly monitors the volcano recorded lesser volcanic earthquakes, from 944 to 420 events per day from January 17 to 24.
PHIVOLCS also reported "diminished to infrequent" weak ash eruptions and "longer episodes of degassing or steaming" in the Taal main crater that generated steam-laden plumes less than 1 kilometer meters tall.
"This marked decline coupled with volcanic earthquake activity suggests stalling, degassing and reduction in gas pressures of eruptible magma in the shallow magmatic region that feeds surface eruptive activity," it added.
Likewise, suflur dioxide flux from the Taal Volcano had decreased to a high of 5,300 tonnes per day on January 13 to a low of 140 tonnes per day on January 22, PHIVOLCS said.
"This low concentration average is consistent with a progressively degassed shallow magma source and diminished plume activity," it added.
Unrest has not stopped
PHIVOLCS noted, however, that the lowering of Taal's alert level status does not mean that the volcano's unrest has stopped or that a possible hazardous eruption has disappeared.
Sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas explosions may still occur while Taal Volcano is at Alert Level 3, it added.
"Should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential hazardous explosion, the Alert Level may be raised back to Alert Level 4," PHIVOLCS.
PHIVOLCS recommended that entry into the Taal Volcano Island, Taal's permanent danger zone, as well as in areas within the seven-kilometer radius from the main crater be prohibited.
"Local government units are advised to assess areas outside the seven-kilometer radius for damages and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest," PHIVOLCS said.
"People are also advised to observe precautions due to ground displacement across fissures, frequent ashfall and minor earthquakes," it added.
PHIVOLCS had quickly raised the status of the Taal Volcano to Alert Level 4 hours after a phreatic eruption took place at the crater on Jan. 12, signifying a possible hazardous eruption within hours or days.
In the days following the eruption, entry into the 14-kilometer danger zone near Taal Volcano has been prohibited.
The National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reported on Sunday that 376,327 people or 98,187 families have been affected by Taal Volcano's activity.
The total damage to agriculture due to the eruption, meanwhile, has reached P3,215,788,882.00 in Batangas, Laguna, and Cavite. —KG, GMA News