Taal Volcano in ‘abnormal’ state; no reason for panic — Phivolcs

Marje Pelayo   •   March 30, 2019   •   1668

BATANGAS, Philippines – The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) on Thursday (March 28) raised the alert level in Taal Volcano’s main crater after a series of ‘abnormal’ activities.

The agency, however, said the situation should not be a cause for panic.

“Alert Level 1 remains in effect over Taal Volcano. This means that hazardous eruption is not imminent. The public, however, is reminded that the Main Crater should be strictly off-limits because sudden steam explosions may occur and high concentrations of toxic gases may accumulate,” the agency said on its website.

“The public is also reminded that the entire volcano island is a Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ), and permanent settlement on the island is strongly not recommended,” it added.

Phivolcs recorded a series of earthquakes, at least 50 tremors, within the vicinity of the lake since March 22 this year.

Taal Volcano, which sits at the center of Taal Lake, had its most destructive eruptions in 1749, 1754, 1911, and 1965.

In February, Phivolcs officer-in-charge and DOST Undersecretary Renato Solidum, Jr. said that a major eruption of Taal Volcano may affect 100,000 to 200,000 people in Batangas and adjacent provinces.

The phenomenon may also trigger an ash fall that could reach and affect Metro Manila. – Marje Pelayo

Oplan Pamamalakaya: US, PH soldiers install artificial reefs in Batangas

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 20, 2019

Jackstone-type artificial habitat reefs made from simple construction materials

The Philippine and the United States military divers, along with local government units and non-government organizations installed artificial reefs in Batangas on August 15.

Oplan Pamamalakaya is a collaboration between by the Philippine Air Force, DV Boer Farm, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR), Community Environment and Natural Resources Office, and Municipality of Calatagan local government and residents.

The team were able to install a total of 30 jackstone-type artificial habitat reefs made from simple construction materials. 

“This project was a fantastic opportunity for us to partner with our friends in the PAF and help preserve the Philippine environment for future generations,” said Major Zach Hart, a participating diver.—AAC

PHIVOLCS: Damaged structures in Itbayat may have used porous limestone

Marje Pelayo   •   July 31, 2019

Photo by Dominic de Sagon Asa

MANILA, Philippines – The municipality of Itbayat and other island towns in the province of Batanes in Northern Luzon are landmasses that emerged from the ocean, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).

The area’s soil composition manifests its origin, according to Science and Technology USec. Renato Solidum.

“Doon sa Itbayat ang makikita mong mas maraming bato doon ay limestone (You notice in Itbayat, most of the stones there are limestone),” the PHIVOLCS Director said.

“Ang limestones ay galing sa corals na namuhay sa ilalim ng tubig. Kaya lang napapaangat ito dahil sa pagkilos ng fault, (Limestones are formed from corals on the sea bed. They surface to the ground when the fault moves),” he added.

In July 27, a series of three moderately strong earthquakes rocked the municipality of Itbayat – magnitudes 5.4, 5.9 and 5.8, respectively.

It was in 2015 when Itbayat experienced its latest intensity 5 tremor.

But after 60 or 70 years, it was only on Saturday (July 27) that intensity 6 was again experienced in the area.

According to Solidum, most of the houses or structures suffered damages because the materials used in their constructions were mostly limestone.

Though limestone-based structures could stand strong tropical cyclones, they couldn’t hold strong against earthquakes.

Also, some structures had no steel frames that supposedly add strength and resilience.

“Dahil ang limestone ay madaling matunaw o naaagnas habang tumatagal dahil sa ulan, nagiging marupok ang limestone, (Limestone is a porous material and easily absorbs liquid when drenched in rainwater. Limestone easily breaks),” Usec. Solidum explained.

Limestone was also traced in old churches that were destroyed during a magnitude 7.2 earthquake that struck the province of Bohol in 2013.

Other structures that were damaged also showed traces of limestone that’s why they were not able to stand the strength of the tremors. – (MNP with reports from Rey Pelayo)

Know possible hazards in your area with web app ‘Hazard Hunter’

Marje Pelayo   •   July 16, 2019

MANILA, Philippines – Want to know potential hazards within your area?

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) on Tuesday (July 16) launched a web application dubbed as ‘Hazard Hunter’ which provides the public with information on the possible dangers that may happen in a specific area like earthquake, flood or even volcanic eruption.

‘Hazard Hunter’ is a web-based application that can be accessed on desktop, laptop or in smart phones.

To access, just load https://hazardhunter.georisk.gov.ph/ on your web browser.

A welcome message will lead you to the Hazard Hunter official page.

You will be asked to proceed until you see the full map of the Philippines.

Click on the menu bar then several options on the type of hazards that may be present in your area will appear – seismic for earthquakes, volcanic for volcanoes and hydro-meteorological for flood and storm-related hazards.

Click on the type of hazard then select an area by pointing the cursor to the place of inquiry on the map.

Double click on the area of choice.

The system will immediately load the results that will flash on the right side of the screen.

For instance, Baseco compound in Manila has a population of about 60,000 people.

Based on the app’s reading, Baseco is about 12 kilometers away from the West Valley Fault.

Residents in Baseco may feel ground shaking of up to intensity 8 once the West Valley Fault moves in an event called the Big One.

The area is prone to liquefaction and could suffer from up to four-meter-high tsunami as it is near Manila Bay.

Based on the app, Baseco is less likely to be affected if ever the nearest active volcano, Mount Taal in Batangas, erupts.

Taal Lake is about 58 kilometers away from Baseco.

Baseco is a flood-prone area and floodwater can go as high as two meters and can take up to three days to subside.

During the onset of a severe tropical cyclone, the area could suffer from storm surge as high as 4 meters.

But there is no possibility of a landslide in the area.

The app also has detailed recommendations or suggestions for a plan of action during a specific hazard.

Science and Technology Undersecretary and PHIVOLCS OIC Renato Solidum believes ‘Hazard Hunter’ will enable the public to prepare and plan ahead of a natural disaster.

Government agencies will also be guided for appropriate actions to be taken to minimize or prevent the loss of lives and damage to properties.

“Hindi naman masama na may hazards diyan. What is important is that the hazard is recognized so that the developer can develop approaches to lessen the impact, to mitigate the possible impact,” Solidum noted.

Solidum said even his own house sits on a location that is hazard-prone but recognizing the dangers enabled him to plan for his and his family’s protection.

“Tinaasan ko yung bahay. Ginawa kong three floors para hindi ako mamatay sa baha (What I did was I elevated my house. I made it into three floors to keep me safe from the flood),” he said.

“Inayos ko yung foundation ng building para sa shaking ng liquefaction. So mga ganung klaseng real life application magagamit (ang Hazard Hunter) (I aligned the foundation of the building in case of shaking during liquefaction. During those real-life applications, [Hazard Hunter] can be useful),” he added.

Before the end of the year, PHIVOLCS plans to launch the mobile version of the website. – with details from Rey Pelayo

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