BREAKING: Taal Volcano’s status lowered to Alert Level 3

Aerial shot of Taal Volcano. Phivolcs and the NDDRMC, with Armed Forces of the Philippines and some reporters, flew on a Huey 2 helicopter for its first successful aerial inspection of the damage brought about by the Jan. 12 eruption of Taal Volcano. (Photo by CLIFFORD NUÑEZ)

MANILA, Philippines (Updated) — The alert on Taal Volcano has been downgraded to Alert Level 3, the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) said Sunday.

“This serves as a notice for the lowering of Taal Volcano’s status from Alert Level 4 or hazardous eruption imminent to Alert Level 3, decreased tendency towards hazardous eruption,” Phivolcs announced in a press briefing held in Batangas.

Phivolcs, however, noted this should not be interpreted as “unrest has ceased or that the threat of hazardous eruption has disappeared.”

Phivolcs recommended that entry into Taal Volcano island or Taal’s Permanent Danger Zone as well as areas over Taal Lake within the seven-kilometer radius from the Main Crater must be strictly prohibited.

At Alert Level 3, Phivolcs explained “sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can occur.”

According to its bulletin, among the monitoring parameters Phivolcs observed in lowering Taal’s status was the lower number of volcanic earthquakes recorded.

Citing the Philippine Seismic Network (PSN), Phivolcs said significant earthquakes across the Taal region declined from 929 to 27 events per day and with peak magnitudes of 4.1 to 2.1 between January 12 and 24.

Phivolcs said the Taal Volcano Network (TVN) also recorded a “downtrend” in volcanic earthquakes from 944 to 420 events per day between January 17 and 24.

Activity in the Taal Main Crater likewise diminished to “infrequent weak ash eruptions and longer episodes of degassing or steaming that generated steam-laden plumes [less than] 1000 meters tall.”

The lowering of Taal’s status came two weeks after it was raised to Alert Level 4 which means that “hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.”

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