Phivolcs logs phreatomagmatic eruptions, 55 volcanic quakes in Taal Volcano

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 7) — The government volcanology agency on Wednesday recorded five phreatomagmatic eruptions of Taal Volcano in Batangas province.

In the first incident, the volcano belched a 300-meter-high grayish column from 5:18 a.m. to 5:19 a.m., according to data from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology's Taal Volcano Observatory.

Four other eruptions were logged at 8:47 a.m., 9:15 a.m., 9:26 a.m., and 11:56 a.m. in Taal, one of the world's smallest volcanoes located south of Metro Manila.

"Hindi naman ganoon kalaki. Pero dahil nga sa posibleng pagdami pa ng magma na umaabot sa ibabaw, at pag-interact diyan sa tubig sa may crater, at dahil marami pa ring gas ang inilalabas ay baka magkaroon pa tayo ng malakas-lakas na pagsabog na delikado sa mga kababayan natin na malapit sa Volcano Island," Phivolcs chief Renato Solidum told CNN Philippines' Balitaan, referring to the Taal's recent activity.

[Translation: They are not that big. But because more magma may rise to the surface and interact with water at the crater, and since there is a possible increase in gas emissions, a more powerful explosion may occur, which is dangerous for our fellow Filipinos who live near the Volcano Island.]

Solidum said this threat is the reason why Phivolcs has recommended the evacuation of people living in high-risk areas in the towns of Laurel and Agoncillo.

As of July 6, 1,218 families or 4,465 individuals are staying in 27 temporary shelters, the local government of Batangas said in a Facebook post.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said he asked the local government of Batangas to set up more evacuation centers to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.

"I had requested the local government chief executive to look for public elementary school buildings, where there will be hopefully better distancing observed rather than putting them inside tents," he told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

"Also, there has to be a very strong system for monitoring the symptoms and exposure of people in the evacuation centers," he added.

Other volcanic activities

Aside from the phreatomagmatic eruption caused by the interaction of water and magma at the crater, 55 volcanic earthquakes and high levels of sulfur dioxide emissions were also observed in the past 24 hours, Phivolcs said in its 8 a.m. bulletin.

A few days ago, Taal emitted a record high amount of sulfur dioxide, prompting Phivolcs to warn of another eruption.

Taal Volcano remains under Alert Level 3, which means "magmatic or explosive phreatomagmatic eruption is imminent," according to Phivolcs.

Magma extruding from the main crater could drive explosive eruption, it said in its bulletin.

Its explosion on July 1 after more than a year of calm prompted officials to raise the alert level of Taal to the mid-range status.

Phivolcs has a five-level alert system for volcanic activity, with level five as the highest, meaning a hazardous eruption is in progress.