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Phivolcs records highest SO2 emission from Taal Volcano this year

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday, Nov. 9, announced that Taal Volcano has registered its highest sulfur dioxide (SO2) emission in 2023.

Taal Volcano-Batangas.jpg
Taal Volcano (Manila Bulletin File)

“This is the highest recorded SO2 emission from Taal for the year,” Philvolcs said in a statement.

In its 3 p.m. bulletin, Phivolcs noted that Taal released 11,499 tonnes of volcanic SO2 gas emission from its main crater in a day.

Phivolcs’ visual monitoring also found a “pronounced upwelling of volcanic fluids in the Main Crater that generated rather short and weak- to moderate-volume degassing plumes.”

“Strong winds drifted the plumes to the southwest,” it added.

Possible smog over Taal

Meanwhile, despite the significant increase in Taal’s gas emission, Phivolcs monitored “no volcanic smog or vog over Taal Calder” throughout the day.

However, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecasted a probable wind weakening later in the day and on Nov. 10. This may lead to potential SO2 accumulation and vog formation over the Taal Region.

Phivolcs advised the public, especially those sensitive to vog, such as individuals with health conditions like asthma, lung disease, and heart disease, the elderly, pregnant women, and children, to take necessary precautions.

The reminder was issued because vog consists of fine droplets containing volcanic gases such as SO2, which is acidic and can cause irritation of the eyes, throat, and respiratory tract.

The severity of these effects depends on the gas concentrations and durations of exposure.

Alert Level 1

Furthermore, Phivolcs hoisted Alert Level 1 over Taal, indicating that the volcano remained “abnormal.”

This alert level should not be interpreted as indicating the cessation of unrest or the removal of the threat of eruptive activity.

“At Alert Level 1, sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within TVI (Taal Volcano Island),” Phivolcs said.

Moreover, Phivolcs insisted that entering Taal’s Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), especially in the vicinities of the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure, must remain strictly prohibited.

“Local government units are advised to continuously monitor and assess volcanic SO2 and vog exposure of, and potential impacts on, their communities and undertake appropriate response measures to mitigate these hazards,” it added.

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