Taal volcanic eruption

On January 12, at 2:30 pm, Taal – an island around 60 kilometers south of the capital Manila – started ejecting lava and blew a giant plume of rock fragments, known as tephra, up to 15 kilometers high. Ash traveled as far as 70 kilometers north to Quezon City, forcing tens of thousands of people living on Taal’s Volcano Island and in nearby provinces to evacuate. 

Researchers in the Philippines are monitoring the Taal volcano closely for signs of a major eruption. Even though activity has eased, the threat of a large-scale eruption remains. Not only is it an immediate risk to life, but an event as such could also contaminate water supplies and halt ground and air travel. It could also disrupt power generation for thousands of people.

The volcano remains at a level four, the second-highest level on the country’s volcano-alert system. This means a life-threatening eruption could happen at any moment. Since the sixteenth century, Taal has erupted about thirty times, which includes four major events. Increased seismic activity, like that seen since January 12, preceded most of these eruptions. Although this may seem scary, according to Perla Reyes, a volcanologist at PHIVOLCS, not all cases of increased seismic activity have resulted in a major eruption.