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PHIVOLCS: Taal sets highest sulfur dioxide emission for 2023

Taal Volcano continued its degassing activity on Thursday, generating its highest sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission this year so far, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

In an advisory, Phivolcs said the volcano emitted a total of 9,762 tonnes/day on October 12 — the highest emission so far for 2023 — but added no volcanic smog or vog was observed over its caldera.

“Visual monitors show continued pronounced upwelling of volcanic fluids in the Main Crater that generated rather short and weak to moderate volume degassing plumes,” it said.

“Strong winds drifted the plumes to the southwest, consistent with PAGASA air trajectory forecasts. No volcanic smog or vog over Taal Caldera was observed by visual monitors throughout the day,” it added.

Phivolcs warned the chances for vog may increase due to the elevated SO2 degassing and the expected decrease of wind speed over the Taal region.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 1 (low level of volcanic unrest). It has been continuously degassing high concentrations of volcanic SO2 since March 2021, with emissions averaging  3,781 tonnes/day since September 2023.

Phivolcs said, “at Alert Level 1, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall, and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island”.

The agency likewise recommended prohibiting entry into the volcano’s Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) and advised local government units to continuously monitor and assess volcanic SO2 and vog exposure of, and potential impacts on, their communities.—LDF, GMA Integrated News