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Taal Volcano still emits high sulfur dioxide, steam-driven plumes —PHIVOLCS

Taal Volcano in Batangas continued to emit high levels of volcanic sulfur dioxide or SO2 as it remained under Alert Level 3 status, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) said Sunday.

In its 8 a.m. Taal Volcano bulletin, PHIVOLCS reported that the Taal Main Crater generated as much as 2,500 meters of volcanic sulfur dioxide or SO2 gas emissions and steam-rich plumes in the past 24 hours.

"Sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission averaged 14,699 tonnes/day on 03 July 2021," it added. 

There were also 31 low frequency volcanic earthquakes and low-level background tremor since April 8, 2021.

Moreover, PHIVOLCS said volcanic smog or vog was also observed over Taal Volcano and within its vicinity. 

"Based on ground deformation parameters from electronic tilt, continuous GPS and InSAR monitoring, Taal Volcano Island has begun deflating in April 2021 while the Taal region continues to undergo very slow extension since 2020," it indicated in its advisory.



Meanwhile, the initial activity currently being monitored at Taal Volcano in Batangas is weaker than scenes shown when the volcano erupted in January 2020, PHIVOLCS Officer-in-Charge Renato Solidum Jr. said on Sunday

In an interview with Dobol B TV, Solidum said the current activities of degassing in the volcano showed it is weaker than the scenario last year, where the volcano suddenly erupted and the Alert Level was raised to 4.

“Ito ngang sulfur dixode gas 14,000 tonnes per day ay mas malaki pa sa January 2020. Ibig sabihin nag-dedegas ang magma na nasa mababaw na parte at hindi siya mabilis umusad. So sa ganoong pagkukumpara, ang initial activity natin, hindi kasing lakas ng January 2020,” Solidum said.

(The sulfur dioxide gas [emission of] 14,000 tonnes per day is higher than [the] 2020 [level], meaning there is degassing of magma at the surface and magma moves slowly. So if we compare this, it isn't stronger than the January 2020 [activity].)

However, the PHIVOLCS chief maintained that there should still be vigilance in monitoring  the volcanic events, which may lead to stronger activities. 

"Kailangan bantayan kung mayroon pang magma na manggagaling sa mas mababang parte at mas malayo na pupunta sa ilalim ng Taal Volcano Island na baka maraming gas na madala at baka ito na mag-propel ng mas malakas," he said.

(We need to monitor if there is magma coming from the lower part and farther from Taal Volcano Island that there may be more gases and might generate stronger activities.)


Smoke rises from the main crater of Taal Volcano on Sunday, July 4, 2021 as seen in this photo taken by the shoreline of Taal Lake in Laurel, Batangas. Alert Level 3 remains hoisted over the volcano.  Darlene Cay


In an advisory on Saturday, PHIVOLCS advised the evacuation of residents in Taal Volcano Island and the high-risk barangays of Bilibinwang and Banyaga in Agoncillo; and Buso-buso, Gulod, and eastern Bugaan in Laurel, Batangas Province.

The Batangas PDRRMO on Sunday said more than 3,000 individuals or 1,000 families have been evacuated from their homes as of Sunday, 5 a.m., due to the unrest of Taal Volcano.

Most of them are staying at evacuation centers while more than 400 families went to relatives' homes, Batangas PDRRMO chief Joselito Castro said.

Batangas Vice Governor Mark Leviste on Sunday said the provincial government has already asked the national government for P10 million worth of financial assistance to address the needs of affected residents.

Taal Volcano erupted on Thursday afternoon, giving rise to a kilometer-high phreatomagmatic plume. Alert Level 2 was then raised to 3. —KG, GMA News