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Phivolcs not expecting Taal Volcano to erupt like in January 2020

/ 06:54 PM July 01, 2021
Phreatomagmatic activity in Taal Volcano. Screengrab from Phivolcs

Phreatomagmatic activity in Taal Volcano. Screengrab from Phivolcs

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has calmed people’s worries of Taal Volcano exploding the way it did in January last year.

Phivolcs Director Rene Solidum cited a difference in the way the restive volcano erupted more than a year ago and on Thursday, explaining that Taal is now acting up in an “open system,” thus, containing less pressure compared to its January 2020 flare-up.

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Earlier Thursday, Phivolcs placed Taal on Alert Level 3 after the volcano released a “dark phreatomagmatic plume” of around one kilometer high.

“‘Yong January 2020, sa maliit na explosion, lumaki nang lumaki kasi nga may pressure. Tinanggal natin ang pressure sa may crater at ‘yong mas mataas ang pressure na magma ay biglang umakyat,” Solidum said in a briefing streamed on Facebook.

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(The January 2020 incident was a small explosion that increased in size dramatically due to pressure. When the pressure over the crater was removed, the magma with the higher pressure suddenly went up.)

“Ngayon ay nagde-degas nga po, so kakaiba ang panimula tungkol dito, at binanggit na na hindi gano’n ka-explosive ang simula nito kaysa sa last year,” he added.

(But now, it is even degassing, so even if it started with a small eruption also, we are not expecting it to be as explosive as last year’s incident.)

Phivolcs’ Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division (WMEPD) chief Mariton Bornas further explained that as early as March, they have assured residents around Taal that any possible explosion would not be as severe as what happened on January 12, 2020, when the volcano made a phreatic explosion that sent an ash column as high as one kilometer.

READ: Taal Volcano erupts

READ: Taal volcano spews ash in phreatic eruption

“No’ng March pa ho natin sinasabi na hindi natin ine-expect ang gano’ng klaseng scenario, kasi number one, no’ng bago po pumutok ang Taal, ito po ay closed system, so ‘yong magma po na naka-impok po sa pinaka-ilalim pa po ng Taal ay pressurized pa.  Kaya po no’ng pumutok ay napakabilis ng akyat ng magma at napakalakas,” Bornas noted.

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(We were saying as early as March that we are no longer expecting a scenario similar to January 2020, because number one, when Taal Volcano erupted during that time, it was a closed system which means magma is being collected below the volcano is pressurized.  That’s why when it erupted, the magma rose quickly and strongly.)

“So iba po ‘yong scenario no, depressurized na ‘yong magma, open system na po ang taal, nakakapag-degas na po siya ng dere-deretso, at nawawalan po siya ng pwersa, naninigas […] at hindi po nakakapag-ipon ng sapat na gas overpressures,” she added.

(So, we’re facing a different scenario, as the magma has been depressurized, it’s an open system as it was able to degas continuously, and it loses force, stiffening, because it no longer has the sufficient gas overpressures.)

Still, both Solidum and Bornas said the situation may change — if new magma flows upwards, to the old routes that were used by Taal Volcano in 2020.  However, Bornas said they will be able to determine if such an event would happen.

“Of course maaari pong magbago ang situation na ‘yan kung magkakaroon po tayo ng pagsampa ng panibagong magma, mula po dito sa dinaanan nitong pagputok last year […] kung magkakaroon po ng panibagong intrusion dya’n, doon maaari po tayong magbago ng scenario,” Bornas said.

(Of course, that situation can change if Taal Volcano would have new magma rising towards the vents and channels it used during last year’s eruption.  If there is a new intrusion, then scenarios may change.)

“Sa ngayon po wala po tayong narerecord na pagsuot po ng magma na siguardo po tayo na made-detect po natin, made-detect po ng ating seismic network,” she added.

(But as of now we have not recorded any magma movements along the vents, which we are sure to detect using our seismic network.)

According to Phivolcs’ bulletin earlier, the alert level status was increased due to the occurrence of magmatic intrusion at Taal Volcano’s main crater, which can actually lead to succeeding eruptions.

As such, the agency advised evacuating residents from high-risk barangays of Agoncillo and Laurel in Batangas.

KGA

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TAGS: Alert Level 3, dark phreatomagmatic plume, Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, Philippine news updates, Phivolcs, Taal Volcano
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