Phivolcs: Eruption causes lake at Taal Volcano's crater to dry up

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 15) — The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology said Wednesday that the lake at the crater of Taal Volcano, which has been flocked by tourists, has dried up as it continues to erupt.

Phivolcs volcano monitoring and eruption prediction chief Antonia Bornas told CNN Philippines’ Balitaan that water at Taal’s main crater vaporized following its initial eruption which began Sunday.

Mayroon pong lawa diyan ang main crater lake ay naubos o na-vaporize na nung pumutok, nung activity po ng bulkan nung mga nakalipas na araw,” Bornas said.

[Translation: Water at the main crater lake disappeared or vaporized by the volcano’s eruption and activity in the past days.]

The recession of the water from the volcano’s crater has revealed smaller vents inside, Bornas said.

In a later press briefing, she clarified that this is a normal occurrence for Taal during an eruption.

She added that they are also looking into the possibility that water from the main crater receded because of the ground expanding or even breaking apart — a phenomenon volcanologist call fissuring — which happens when magma pushes its way upward to the earth’s surface.

Mayroon ding fissuring na nangyayari sa pulo kapag ito’y pumuputok. So along these fissures, pwedeng magkaroon ng vents,” Bornas told reporters.

[Translation: Fissuring also happens on the Taal Volcano Island when it erupts. There can be vents along these fissures.]

This was also her explanation as to why the water level went down at Taal Lake, the larger lake surrounding the island where the volcano stands, and why portions of Pansipit River which connects to Taal Lake has dried up.

Nagkaroon siguro ng pag-alsa o pag-uplift nung Taal region. Posible din na ‘yung mga bitak sa Lemery, ito ay dire-diretso hanggang Talisay. Baka mayroon tayong underwater fissures sa floor sa ilalim ng Taal Lake, so nag-seep ang tubig dito. So pwede din ‘yun,” Bornas said.

[Translation: Maybe the ground in Taal region swelled. It’s also possible that fissures in Lemery cut straight to Talisay. We may also have underwater fissures on the floor of Taal Lake, so water seeps through this. So that’s also possible.]

She also allayed fears of some residents in some towns in Batangas where fissuring occurred who reported on social media that water has begun seeping through the cracks.

“Our field team has conferred with DPWH (Department of Public Works and Highways) officials who have confirmed na ito po ay burst pipe at pipe na papunta sa isang ospital sa Lemery. Hindi po siya kumukulong tubig,” she said.

[Translation: Our field team has conferred with DPWH officials who have confirmed that this is just a burst pipe heading to a hospital in Lemery. It’s not boiling water.]

The second to the highest alert level is still hoisted over Taal Volcano as Phivolcs continue to warn of a hazardous eruption soon.

In its latest update issued Wednesday at 5 p.m., Phivolcs said it observed new fissures in Sambal Ibaba in Lemery town. It has previously identified fissures in the towns of Lemery, Talisay and San Nicolas in Batangas province.

Over 40,000 people are now staying at evacuation centers due to Taal’s unrest. The volcano’s eruption has also left more than half a billion pesos in damage to agriculture and dealt a blow to tourism in nearby areas, especially to resort town Tagaytay City.