Taal continues emitting steam as cracks widen, hazardous eruption imminent, Philippines


Taal volcano continues emitting steam as fissures identified in barangays of Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay, and San Nicolas in Batangas Province widen, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) reported on Friday, January 17, 2020. Alert Level 4 remains in place over the volcano, indicating an imminent hazardous eruption.

"Since 08:00 AM (12:00 UTC) this morning, Taal Volcano's activity has been generally characterized by weak emission of steam-laden plumes 800 m (2 625 feet) high from the Main Crater that drifted to the general southwest," PHIVOLCS said in its update at 09:00 UTC.

Existing fissures in Lemery, Agoncillo, Talisay, and San Nicolas have been observed to widen by a few centimeters.

In addition, a steaming fissure has been newly observed on the northern slopes of Taal Volcano Island. Receding of the shoreline has been observed around the whole of Taal Lake.

The Taal Volcano Network recorded a total of five discrete weak explosions. Furthermore, the Philippine Seismic Network has so far registered a total of 653 volcanic earthquakes since Sunday, January 12– when it started erupting.

19 earthquakes have been plotted on Friday, from 05:00 to 16:00 LT (January 16 at 21:00 UTC to January 17 at 08:00 UTC).

"This signifies continuous magmatic intrusion beneath the Taal edifice, which may lead to further eruptive activity," Phivolcs wrote. Alert Level 4 is still raised over the volcano which means a dangerous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days. With this, authorities have blockaded at least four towns at risk.

PHIVOLCS reiterated total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas within the 14 km (9 miles) radius from the Main Crater along the Pansipit River Valley, where fissures have been occurring.

Furthermore, the agency reminded civil aviation authorities that airborne ash and ballistic fragments from the eruption column pose risks to aircraft.

"DOST-PHIVOLCS is continually monitoring the eruption and will update all stakeholders of further developments."

On January 16, the lake inside Taal dried up, which was anticipated since its ash emission. Over 121 000 residents have fled their homes just in Batangas province, which has been declared under a state of calamity. At least 373 evacuation sites were filled with displaced locals. So far, 300 000 people have been evacuated or displaced.

The government's disaster agency reported that some 65 000 people were displaced in Batangas and Cavite. However, thousands of others refused to flee or have returned to check on their belongings and livestock.

"We've lost everything, our house got damaged, but I need to retrieve my pots and cooking wares and other things. They should not be very, very strict," said 59-year-old Erlinda Landicho from Lemery municipality, as authorities halted her and her son from re-entering the ash-engulfed town.

On January 15, the Provincial Council of Cavite approved a resolution declaring the province, which was among the areas near the rumbling volcano, under a state of calamity.

On January 14, three young volunteers died in a car crash on their way home after distributing relief goods to an evacuation center in Batangas. Hailed as heroes, the three men were identified as Maximino Alcantara, Darwin Lajara, and Rio John Abel, all in their 20s.

On January 13, photos and videos circulated on social media showing the massive devastation a day after the ash eruption of Taal, one of the Philippines' deadliest volcanoes. While residents were able to escape the wrath of the volcano, many animals were left behind, prompting rescue missions. Animal rights groups, together with volunteers, braved the danger zones to save stranded animals.

Featured image credit: Joint Task Group Taal

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One Comment

  1. Five more days to the edge of the most probable timing for an eruption, prime days on the 24th/25th.

    Puerto Rico is also susceptible, imo. They had another powerful quake this morning. Afterwards a swarm of smaller 2.5 to 3.0+ ever since. Maybe a quiet time now for 3 or 4 days.

    The New Madrid popped a few 2.5+ quakes in recent weeks. Around May of this year the first New Madrid related quakes over 2.5 starting showing themselves. They have been popping up one to 3 times a month ever since then. This is after 9 years of watching daily since the great quake in Japan on 1 2011.

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