Surrounding towns warned of possible ‘base surge’ in Taal Volcano

Marje Pelayo   •   January 13, 2020   •   391

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) noted a possible ‘base surge’ that may affect surrounding towns as a result of the Taal volcano’s continuous eruption.

Using the agency’s hazard map, PHIVOLCS OIC Renato Solidum explained that areas shaded in orange are the ones facing the possibility of a base surge.

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According to PHIVOLCS, ‘base surge’ is a type of pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) or mixture of fragmented volcanic particles (pyroclastics), hot gases and ash that rush down the volcanic slopes at high speeds.

“Para pong impact ng speeding car (It is similar to a speeding car),” described Ma. Antonia Bornas, Chief of PHIVOLCS’ Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division (VMEPD).

“Hindi ko lang alam kung sa lake, may mga bahay doon, ay sapat na ang lakas para mapatumba niya, but definitely, mada-damage. Kayang patumbahin ang mga puno. Kayang ma-damage ang mga bahay (I’m not sure if the impact [of the base surge] can bring down houses near the lake but definitely, they will be damaged. [Base surge] can uproot trees and damage houses),” she added, describing what happened in Taal during similar phenomenon in 1911.

Base surge forms when the steam-saturated eruption column collapses and travel outward along the ground surface.

PDCs such as base surge, according to PHIVOLCS, are “the most lethal of all volcanic hazards as it can cause “incineration, asphyxiation, abrasion, dynamic pressure impact and burial in hot volcanic material.”

In the case of Taal, the most recent base surge happened in 1977.

At present, the permanent danger zone on the volcano island stretches up to 14 kilometers away from Taal Volcano.

In case a base surge happens, it will most likely affect towns north of the volcano which include Talisay, San Nicolas, Tanauan, Talisay, Laurel, Agoncillo, Santa Teresita, Alitagtag, Cuenca, Lipa, Balete and Mataas Na Kahoy.

“Kaya nga tayo nagtaas ng alert level (kasi) iyong 1965 eruption ay mas maliit kaysa 1754 (kung saan) tumawid ang deposito papunta sa Laurel, Agoncillo area at maraming namatay, mahigit 200 (That’s the reason why we raised our alert level because the eruption in 1965 was smaller than that in 1754 where deposits reached the towns of Laurel, Agoncillo and killed more than 200 individuals),” explained Solidum.

Aside from base surge, volcanic eruptions may also generate a tsunami but in the case of Taal, it may happen in certain conditions.

“Ang volcanic tsunami ay maidudulot lamang kung may significant volcanic deposit na nai-displace ang tubig para magkaroon ng alon. So wala pang umaabot sa ganun (A volcanic tsunami may generate only when significant volcanic deposits displace water in the lake and form waves. So far, nothing like that has happened at this time),” Solidum said.

PHIVOLCS assured to issue updates on alert levels to forewarn the public regarding the activities of the volcano.

Solidum clarified, however, that Taal Volcano has been placed under Alert Level 1 since March 2019 which means phreatic explosions are expected.

Such happened on Sunday (January 12) which prompted PHIVOLCS to immediately raise alert levels to 2, then 3, after Taal produced ash column of up to 15 kilometers high.

On Monday (January 13), the agency further raised Alert Level over Taal volcano to 4 prompting mandatory evacuations.

At this point, Solidum said, they may raise the alert level to 5 should major eruptions occur.

“Kapag sinabi nating Alert Level 5, sasabihin lang natin na nangyayari na ang mapanganib na eruption (When we say alert level 5, it means a hazardous eruption already occurred),” Solidum said adding that unless eruptions intensify, alert level will remain as it is.

As of this writing, Taal volcano has already started magmatic eruptions and PHIVOLCS assured it will continue its monitoring in order to provide the public the latest updates on volcanic activities in Taal, Batangas. MNP (with details from Rey Pelayo)

Several evacuees in Batangas City evacuation center decide to stay despite clearance from LGU

Maris Federez   •   January 28, 2020

Evacuees in the 12 towns of Batangas have started to return to their homes after the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) lowered the alert level of the Taal Volcano from 4 to 3.

Several evacuees in Batangas City, however, opted to stay behind for fear of a major explosion of Taal.

Lilibeth Arajo, a resident from the town of Taal who is now in an evacuation in Batangas City, said they are still awaiting the final decision of the authorities to really be sure that it is indeed safe to go home.

She added that their house is on the outskirts of Taal and transportation is not easily accessible.

Another evacuee said it is not yet certain that there will be immediate livelihood or source of income for them should they go home now. — (with details from Vincent Arboleda) /mbmf

PH Navy donates relief goods to Taal victims

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Philippine Navy (PN) donated P700,000 worth of relief goods to the municipality of San Luis in Batangas on Sunday (January 26).

According to the Philippine Navy, three evacuation sites where identified for the distribution of the relief goods: San Isidro Labrador Parish Church in Brgy. Poblacion, Taliba Evacuation Center in BrgyTaliba and San Luis Academy in Calumpang West.

Around 4,000 relief goods were given to the evacuees in the three said areas which include a pail, 1 kilo of rice, assorted canned goods, food packs, bottled waters and personal hygiene kits.

Other relief goods from various organizations were also distributed.

“150 mattress foamS from Uratex Company and dozens of various relief items from other PN stakeholders were also distributed in this activity,” according to the Philippine Navy.

Philippine Navy Flag Officer In Command Vice Admiral Robert A. Empedrad said he wants to ensure proper assistance is provided by the Philippine Navy before he retires. Empedrad will be retiring from office by next week.

“We are always willing to assist our stakeholders as we assure everyone that your Navy is always ready to serve in every situation and that you can always count on us,” he said.—AAC

Some schools in Calabarzon hit by Taal eruption prepare for class resumption

Robie de Guzman   •   January 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Several schools in Tagaytay City and in Calabarzon region have begun preparing for the possible resumption of classes next week amid the continuing activities of Taal Volcano.

Calabarzon Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) on Friday said some families temporarily staying in schools being used as evacuation centers have been transferred to other shelters.

Clean-up of classrooms which previously housed evacuees have also commenced in line with the directive of the Department of Education (DepEd).

“Kasi meron po tayong memorandum po from Department of Education na nagsasabing it should be 15 days after the disaster na dapat ay makabalik na sa mga regular schooling ang mga kabataan natin,” Calabarzon RDRRMC information officer Jovner Dupilas said.

From the previous 626 evacuation centers opened in the region, the number has gone down to 500 after they decongested some shelters to give way for the possible reopening of classes.

Dupilas added they are now identifying other facilities that may be used as temporary shelters for families who fled their homes amid the Taal Volcano unrest.

“Nag-iidentify tayo ng mga evacuation center na konti lang ‘yung bilang or ‘yung evacuation centers na hindi na ginagamit. For example, sa Sta. Rosa City, meron tayong regional evacuation center doon na ipinatayo at ngayon ay hindi pa ginagamit,” he said.

Some schools in Tagaytay that are blanketed by thick layers of ash spewed by Taal are also being cleaned.

Classes here were supposed to resume on January 23, Thursday but was postponed by local authorities.

“Isa sa dahilan po kaya hindi pa po kami nagpatuloy dahil hindi pa po lahat ng school ay ready. Tuloy-tuloy pa po yung paglilinis, kaya iyon po yung isa sa dahilan namin maliban po doon sa alert level,” Tagaytay City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office chief Jose Clyde Yayong said.

DepEd earlier said it would recommend the resumption of classes on February 3 in areas that were affected by the eruption of Taal Volcano.

“Because things are calming down in certain places [and] in the schools which we believe can already be reopened, classes can be resumed starting February 3,” DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said at a press briefing Friday.

“There are places na mas natatamaan sa Cavite. There are places na mas natatamaan sa Laguna,” she added.

Areas in Batangas that are not heavily affected by the volcanic activities could reopen classes to accommodate learners displaced by the disaster, Briones said.

Data from the department revealed that 1,054 schools in Calabarzon (Region 4A: Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon) were affected by the suspension of classes as of January 23. Classes in some schools in the region were suspended indefinitely since Taal Volcano started erupting on January 12.

Although DepEd has recommended a date for the school reopening in the region, Yayong said they would have to depend on the updates and advise from the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs).

“Titingnan po namin kasi sabi nga naming, what if isang taon siyang maging alert level four? So, depende po sa obserbasyon ng Phivolcs na iyon po ang sinusunod namin,” he said.

Taal Volcano remains under alert level 4, which means a hazardous eruption is imminent.

As of January 24, Friday, Phivolcs reported that Taal emitted a tall column of thick steam anew, signifying that the heating up of volcanic materials underneath the crater has intensified. The number of recorded volcanic quakes also increased to 466 from Thursday’s 444. – RRD (with details from Correspondents Benedict Samson and Vincent Arboleda)


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