Philippines’ Taal volcano growing more restless: shaken by 9 volcanic quakes

Thursday, June 13, 2013
By Paul Martin
June 13, 2013

PHILIPPINES – Restive Taal Volcano in Batangas province showed heightened activity after at least nine volcanic quakes were recorded around it in the past 24 hours, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs). Paulo Reniva, science research assistant of the Phivolcs’ Volcano Monitoring Division, said these quakes were monitored from 7 a.m. Tuesday to 7 a.m. yesterday. Phivolcs recorded seven volcanic quakes in a previous 24-hour observation period. Despite the increased activity, Reniva said “there is nothing to worry about” since tremors below 10 are still within the “normal parameters” of a volcano under Alert Level 1. Alert Level 1, which means that hazardous eruption is not imminent, remains in effect over Taal. However, Reniva reminded the public to stay away from the main crater due to sudden occurrence of steam explosions and accumulation of toxic gases. Taal has about 40 craters, above water and under water, which have so far been discovered. He said the entire volcano island is off limits since it is a permanent danger zone. In Albay, Mayon Volcano was relatively “quiet” in the past 24 hours. Reniva said although moderate emission of white steam plumes was observed, no volcanic earthquake was recorded in the area. He said no rockfall was detected and that sulfur dioxide levels remained low. He added that no crater glow was observed Tuesday night due to thick clouds that covered the volcano’s summit. However, Reniva reiterated that the public should refrain from entering the six-kilometer radius permanent danger zone because small steam and ash explosions and rock falls may occur anytime. Meanwhile, two minor tectonic earthquakes were recorded in Northern Samar yesterday. The first quake with a magnitude of 2.9 occurred at 11:56 a.m. Its epicenter was traced 14 kilometers northwest of Laoang town, Northern Samar, which felt the quake at Intensity 3. The town of Pambujan also in Northern Samar felt the quake at Intensity 3. The second quake, measuring 3.2 in magnitude, occurred 10 minutes later. Its epicenter was some 20 km northeast of Laoang. It was felt at Intensity 3 in Laoang and Pambujan towns, and Intensity 2 in Catarman and San Roque. The two quakes are unlikely connected to a magnitude 5.3 quake that hit the province in September last year, said Erlinton Olaverde, science research specialist of the Phivolcs Seismology Division. “Masyado ng matagal nung nangyari iyong 5.3 earthquake…However, to verify if these two quakes are only aftershocks of the 5.3 tremor, we still need to conduct further study,” he also said. Olaverde also said 376 aftershocks have been recorded in North Cotabato since a 5.7-magnitude earthquake hit the province last June 1. As of 1 p.m. yesterday, 17 of the aftershocks were “significant,” he said. Aftershocks will continue to occur in North Cotabato and nearby areas for more than a month, he also said. –Malaya

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