Alert level 3 still hoisted over Taal as its crater, fissures spew steam; quakes also monitored

(Eagle News)–An alert level 3 remains hoisted over Taal as its crater and fissures continue to spew steam and its seismic activity.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said activity in the main crater in the past 24 hours has been characterized by moderate emission of the white to dirty white steam-laden plumes rising 200 to 300 meterd high.

PHIVOLCS said it also observed a weak steaming from fissure vents along the Daang Kastila trail rising 10 to 20 meters high.

Sulfur dioxide emission was measured at an average of 116 tons per day on February 8.

PHIVOLCS said the Taal Volcano Network recorded 115 volcanic earthquakes including two low-frequency events and five harmonic tremors with durations of one to four minutes.

“These earthquakes signify magmatic activity beneath the Taal edifice that could lead to eruptive activity at the main crater,” PHIVOLCS said.

PHIVOLCS reminded the public that “sudden steam-driven and even weak phreatomagmatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall, and lethal volcanic gas expulsions can still occur and threaten areas within Taal Volcano Island and nearby lakeshores.”

It recommended that entry into the Taal Volcano Island as well as into areas over Taal Lake and communities west of the island within a seven-kilometer radius from the main crater be strictly prohibited.

Local government units were also advised to assess areas outside the seven-kilometer radius for damages and road accessibilities and “to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest.”

People were advised to observe precautions due to “ground displacement across fissures, frequent ashfall and minor earthquakes.”

“Communities beside active river channels particularly where ash from the main eruption phase has been thickly deposited should increase vigilance when there is heavy and prolonged rainfall since the ash can be washed away and form lahars along the channels,” PHIVOLCS said.

Civil aviation authorities also advised pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano.