Taal Volcano getting restive
By Carlito Pablo
TAAL Volcano is getting restive again, spewing 6-meter
high geysers of mud and boiling water. The volcano's ''abnormal activity'' has been observed
since Thursday, Feb. 18, and Pedro Lumabi Jr., a monitoring
officer of the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology,
said the geysers were a sign that the volcano was active.
Lumabi said the geysers continued sporadically from
Friday to Sunday, when they started to weaken. ''As of today (Feb. 22),
we're only observing some steaming activity,'' he said. Phivolcs field
crew reported yesterday (Feb. 22) that the
base of the active vent where geysering occurred has a diameter of
10.25 meters and a depth of 7.5 meters.
The temperature of the active vent ''cannot be measured
yet because the crater is too deep by this time,'' the report
The geysers were reported to be in the vicinity of
the popular Daang Kastila, a trail used by tourists for hiking
and horseback riding to get a good view of the crater lake.
Residents of six towns on and around
Taal's slope were advised to be ready to evacuate should the situation
worsen. Tourists were also told to stay away from the northeast
sector of the main crater lake, where mud first fountained for
one hour, from 11 a.m. to noon last Thursday.
In a report to Science Secretary Felimon Uriarte
Jr. dated Feb. 20, Phivolcs Director Raymundo Punongbayan said
the site of the hot geysers, called fumarole, is ''a thermal area
where other steam vents have more or less emitted steam and boiling
''These hot grounds extend northward beyond the main
crater and underlie the southern segment of the Daang Kastila
trail visited by the tourists,'' he said.
''Unfortunately, this portion of the trail has also
been quite active for the past years and, in 1992, when many volcanic
earthquakes caused the ground to crack and formed fissures that
spanned some 200 meters, cutting directly across the trail.''
Because of ''the uncertainty of Taal's present unrest,''
Punongbayan said Phivolcs was advising people to stay away from
the Daang Kastila trail, ''where a sudden surge of activity of
larger magnitude'' could occur, ''placing many lives at risk.''
Punongbayan said the activity could take the form
of large steam bursts, ''which may take place not only in the
crater area but also in the fissures cutting the Daang Kastila
He added that the geyser was ''previously very active''
on Aug. 23, 1998, and that ''minor activity'' of the same kind
was also observed in September that year.
Taal Volcano last erupted in 1977. Its most destructive
eruption in modern times occurred in 1965.
Additional seismograph equipment has been installed
in the area. It is handled by a Phivolcs quick response team,
which is monitoring the volcano's activity round the clock.
In Batangas City, Phivolcs science and research specialist
Aristotle Jimenez said the mud and water geysers were shooting
up to a height of 4 meters when his group conducted thermal measurement
and seismic monitoring on Feb. 20.
He said the six towns likely to be affected by a
worsening of volcanic activity were Talisay, San Nicolas, Mataas
na Kahoy, Agoncillo, Balete and Laurel.
Police Supt. Jefferson Soriano, head Provincial Disaster
Coordinating Council, has placed a team of police officers and
PDCC officials on alert, ready to start evacuating residents if