Taal Volcano status lowered to Alert level 2 – Phivolcs

Robie de Guzman
Aerial photos Taal Volcano eruption aftermath epa08135676 Handout aerial photo provided by the Office of Civil Defense shows the Taal Volcano crater in Batangas province, south of Manila, Philippines, 17 January 2020. The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) has kept the alert level at four, following the volcano’s eruption on 12 January 2020. EPA-EFE/OFFICE OF CIVIL DEFENSE HANDOUT HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY/NO SALES

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Friday downgraded Taal Volcano’s status from alert level 3 to alert level 2 following indications of decreased unrest in the recent weeks.

In its bulletin, Phivolcs said it lowered the alert level status of Taal Volcano after three weeks due to less frequent volcanic activity, stabilizing ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and Taal Volcano Island edifices, and weak steam or gas emissions at the Main crater.

“DOST-PHIVOLCS is lowering the alert status of Taal Volcano from Alert Level 3 to Alert Level 2 to reflect the overall decreasing trend in the level of monitoring parameters,” it said.

Alert Level 2 means there is decreased unrest, but State volcanologists said this should not be interpreted that unrest has ceased or that the threat of an eruption has disappeared.

The agency also reminds the public that at alert level 2, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the volcano island and its coast.

It also advised that entry to the Taal Volcano Island – a permanent danger zone – shall remain prohibited.

“Local government units are advised to additionally assess previously evacuated areas within the seven-kilometer radius for damages and road accessibilities and to strengthen preparedness, contingency and communication measures in case of renewed unrest,” Phivolcs said.

“People are also 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,” it added.

Civil aviation authorities are also advised to direct pilots to avoid flying close to the volcano as airborne ash and ballistic fragments from sudden explosions and wind-remobilized ash may pose hazards to aircraft.

Phivolcs said alert level 3 may be raised again should an uptrend or pronounced change in monitored parameters forewarn a potential eruption.

On January 12, Taal Volcano spewed kilometers-high ash plumes which prompted state volcanologists to raise its status to alert level 4. Thousands of residents within the 14-kilometer radius from the main crater were ordered to flee their homes due to a possible hazardous eruption.

Two weeks later, Phivolcs downgraded Taal’s status to alert level 3, which allowed displaced residents outside the seven-kilometer danger zone to return to their homes.

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