Phivolcs: Higher sulfur dioxide emission recorded in Taal; lesser danger seen in Mayon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that Taal Volcano has been emitting more sulfur dioxide, while Mayon has been emitting less, meaning it now has a lower chance of having an explosive eruption.

According to Phivolcs’ update on Tuesday, Taal, which is currently under Alert Level 1, increased its emission of sulfur dioxide from around 5,000 tons, as reported on Monday, to over 9,000 tons.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source on Tuesday, Ma. Antonia Bornas, chief of Phivolcs’ volcano monitoring and eruption prediction division, said repeated exposure to sulfur dioxide is toxic for humans, and can lead to severe respiratory distress, especially among the vulnerable population.

There were times when residents had to be evacuated due to continuous exposure, she noted.

Bornas also warned of other volcanic gasses that experts cannot detect, like carbon dioxide. If large quantities of these are inhaled, this may lead to asphyxiation, she said.

Aside from this, she said the volcano island is partially inflated on its western sector, which means magmatic activity, or magma forming or moving under the earth's crust, is possibly taking place.

Because of this, Bornas said residents are advised to stay away from Taal Volcano Island, and as much as possible stay at home.

The Phivolcs official said that when outdoors, locals need to wear face masks or use a wet towel to cover their face.

“They already have prepared for this. They do have very active barangay, municipal, city health centers that respond to this,” Bornas added.

Meanwhile, Bornas noted that Phivolcs recorded lower sulfur dioxide emission in Mayon, which is currently under Alert Level 2. She noted this means the danger of an explosive eruption taking place is lowered, unless the level of magmatic gas in the volcano increases.

She said 74 rockfall events were also recorded in Mayon, sending lava debris and ash within one kilometer south of the active crater.

“For now, we might see this kind of activity for quite some time,” Bornas said.

Phivolcs is also monitoring developments in Kanlaon Volcano, which is currently under Alert Level 1. Kanlaon has been producing low-frequency volcanic quakes in the past months, Bornas said.

Its sulfur dioxide emission also significantly increased to 1,089 tons per day on Monday from its normal emission of 50 tons a day.