The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) Puerto Princesa Seismic Station said it has received reports of volcanic ashfalls in Coron in the Calamianes Group of Islands but these are “unverified”.
Seismic station officer-in-charge Engr. Robert Esplida said Tuesday that as of the moment, they are confirming the reports with their central office in Manila but it is busy prioritizing areas near Batangas where Taal Volcano is located.
“May mga reported kami kasi nag-iiba ‘yong direksyon ng hangin siguro kapag dito pa-south ‘yong hangin. May reported kami pero unverified pa naman na mukhang sa Coron nakaramdam,” Esplida said.
“By the way sa Mindoro mukhang wala naman which is mas malapit nga ito. Siguro ano lang ng hangin, pero dito sa mainland ay wala pa naman reported,” he added.
Esplida told Palawan News that PHIVOLCS is still monitoring Taal Volcano’s activities and as far as they are concerned, the province was not affected by Sunday’s volcanic ash.
“Continuous pa rin kasi na mino-monitor ‘yong activities ng Taal kasi continuous ‘yong pagbuga ng volcanic ash. Tinitingnan namin kung talagang magpro-progress ‘yong activity niya. But, so far, sa Palawan hindi pa naman apektado with regards sa volcanic ash,” he said.
Reacting on comparisons being made by Palawan netizens between the volcanic ash from Mt. Pinatubo in 1991 and Taal Volcano, Esplida said there is a big difference in their eruptions.
Mt. Pinatubo had a huge volume of ash because its eruption was major while Taal’s was minor on January 12.
When Mt. Pinatubo erupted in 1991, it was after 600 years of staying dormant. Esplida said this means that the longer it slumbers, the higher the energy and pressured it builds up.
Taal, on the other hand, had minor eruptions every two or three years, but no major eruption so far.
“Yong Pinatubo kasi ay napakalaki ng volume at major eruption ‘yon. May mga minor eruptions tayo like sa Taal. Napakalaki, ilang million of tons ang binuga kasi ng Pinatubo at saka ‘yong Taal kasi nag-e-erupt siya, may mga bracket mga 10 years, ‘yong Mayon naman every year nag-e-erupt pero minor eruptions lang,” he said.
“Dito sa Taal, very active din ito, every two years or three years nagkakaroon siya ng minor eruptions, nailalabas niya na agad ‘yong pressure. Kung magputok man siya katulad nito, hindi rin masyadong kalakasan at malaking material ang ilalabas niya. Hindi naman tayo nag-e-expect ng major eruption sa Taal,” he added.
He added that the explosion height of the Taal Volcano is only at more than one kilometer. But Mt. Pinatubo’s was considered the second-largest eruption of the 20th century and its ash plume reached more than 40 kilometers high and ejected more than 10 cubic meters of magma.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 12, 1991, is considered as the second-largest eruption of the 20th century. The ash plume height reached more than 40 kilometers (28 mi) high and ejected more than 10 cubic kilometers (km3) of magma.
“Sa amin mino-monitor namin kung mag-i-increase ‘yong emission ng flow ng sulfur sa mga volcanic ash. Kapag malaki ang volume na nilalabas noon, may possibility na malayo talaga ang mararating noon. As of now, minimal lang ang buga ng Taal, hindi rin lumalakas. Mino-monitor din namin ‘yong volcanic quakes, as of now noong pumutok ang Taal nasa 144 volcanic quakes na nari-record ng PHIVOLCS,” he said.
Esplida said that volcano ash is very hazardous to health as it contains a high amount of sulfur content that is dangerous for humans or animals to inhale.
However, he reiterated that the volcanic ash has not yet reached Palawan.
Esplida also stated further that PHILVOCS is closely monitoring the volume of emission from the volcano and the wind direction that could be a factor in the distance it could reach.
He said that Taal Volcano had a phreatic eruption so they could not tell when would the eruption last.
According to the United States Geological Survey (USGS), a phreatic eruption is a steam-driven explosion that occurs when water beneath the ground or on the surface is heated by magma, lava, hot rocks, or new volcanic deposits.