Thick, white steam from Taal means volcanic materials are rising — PHIVOLCS

Marje Pelayo

MANILA, Philippines — Taal Volcano spewed anew a tall column of thick, white steam early Friday morning (January 24).

Experts from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) explained that the white steam-laden plumes of about 500 meters high that drifted towards the southwest direction signify that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified.

In a press briefing, Volcano Monitoring Chief Ma. Antonia Bornas explained that the thick steam means that excessively hot volcanic materials are rising, causing the water to boil.

Mayroon po kasi tayo talagang magma na umaakyat at ito po talaga ang binabantayan natin (The magma is still moving up and this is what we are monitoring at present),” Bornas said.

Iyong steam ito po ay mula sa ground water or sa tubig ng lawa na sumisipsip sa ilalim ng lupa nung nagkaroon tayo ng fissuring at ito po ay nalilikha sa ibabaw ng magma dahil napakainit po nito at ibinubuga iyong steam (The thick steam came from ground water or the lake water that is drying up in the event of fissuring. There is evaporation going on top of the very hot magma thus steam is produced),” she added.

Bornas also noted the increase in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission from 144 tons per day on Thursday (January 23) to an average of 224 tons per day on Friday.

Still, PHIVOLCS stressed that the high frequency of volcanic tremors indicates that the magma is continuously rising and may still result to an eruptive explosion.

Based on PHIVOLCS monitoring, Taal Volcano has generated 486 volcanic earthquakes including four low-frequency earthquakes.

The agency said Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano which means a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

PHIVOLCS reiterates that forced evacuation of Taal Volcano island remains necessary as well as other identified high-risk areas where fissures are being observed.

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