Increasing activity at volatile Taal volcona; Philippine govt tells locals to stay indoors

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) is monitoring Taal Volcano, which remains under Alert Level 1 due to increasing volcanic activity. - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

MANILA, June 4 (Philippine daily Inquirer/ANN): The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) has observed continued and increased degassing activity from Taal Volcano, which remains under Alert Level 1.

“A total of 5,831 tonnes per day of volcanic sulfur dioxide or SO2 gas emission from the Taal Main Crater was recorded last 1 June, which was higher than last month’s average of 3,556 tonnes per day,” the agency reported.

In its 1pm advisory on Sunday, Phivolcs said the increased degassing activity in the form of “voluminous steam-rich plumes that rose to 3,000 meters above Taal Volcano Island” also produced significant volcanic smog or “vog” over Taal Caldera as reported locals from the municipalities of Balete, Laurel, and Agoncillo, Batangas.

According to Phivolcs, vog consists of fine droplets with volcanic gas such as SO2 that may irritate the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract with severity depending on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure.

Aside from vog, the agency also warned the public of possible acid rain, which can be generated “during periods of rainfall and volcanic gas emission over areas where the plume disperses” and may cause damage to crops, houses, and buildings.

Locals with asthma, lung disease, and heart disease, as well as the elderly, pregnant women, and children, were advised to avoid outdoor activity to limit their exposure to vog.

“Avoid outdoor activities, stay indoors, and shut doors and windows to block out vog. Cover your nose, ideally with an N95 facemask. Drink plenty of water to reduce throat irritation or constriction [...] Watch over yourself and seek help from a doctor or the barangay health unit if needed, especially If serious effects are experienced,” Phivolcs said.

The agency also reminded the public that Alert Level 1 remains hoisted over Taal Volcano, which means “it is still in abnormal condition and should not be interpreted to have ceased unrest nor ceased the threat of eruptive activity.” - Philippine Daily Inquirer/ANN

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