Weak explosions, quakes signal Taal Volcano is still dangerous – Phivolcs

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State volcanologists say Taal Volcano remains just as dangerous despite lesser activity seen on the surface, as weak explosions, earthquakes, and cracks on the ground persist.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) — State volcanologists reported weak explosions and more earthquakes generated by Taal Volcano on Friday, signaling that the situation remains just as dangerous despite lesser activity on the volcano's surface.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology reported five weak explosions of Taal as of Friday affternoon, accompanied by steam-laden plumes emitted nearly a kilometer up in the sky.

READ: How to prepare for Taal's imminent explosive eruption

Phivolcs Director Renato Solidum reiterated the volcano remains under Alert Level 4, which means that a hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.

"There is less volcanic activity on the surface, but magma continues to move underneath. We do not base the alert level on what we see on the surface," Solidum told CNN Philippines' The Source.

He added that authorities need to wait for at least two weeks to monitor if there is room to reduce the alert level, which could mean allowing families to return to their homes. All residents within the 14-kilometer radius of the volcano have been ordered to flee their homes and move to evacuation centers given the looming threat of a deadly explosion.

Phivolcs: Alert level 4 remains despite a quieter Taal

Chief of Phivolcs' volcano monitoring and eruption prediction Mariton Bornas added that while Taal showed less activity on its surface, magma continues to move underneath. Deformations in the caldera, consistent low-frequency volcanic earthquakes, and fissures or cracks on the ground still pointed to movement of magma underneath, she added.

"Hindi pa rin po nawawala ang panganib, nandiyan pa rin ang possibility ng malaking pagsabog [The danger is still there, there's still the possibility of a huge eruption]," Bornas said during a Friday briefing.

A total of 653 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded since Sunday afternoon, when Taal's eruption sent ash into the air which spread all the way to parts of Metro Manila.