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Phivolcs: Cracks and quakes, signs of looming major eruption

By ALEXANDRIA SAN JUAN

State volcanologists said new fissures or cracks on the ground were observed in several towns in Batangas as series of tremors rumbled the province amid the threat of Taal Volcano’s hazardous explosive eruption.

These fissures, according to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs), were found in barangays Sinisian, Mahabang Dahilig, Dayapan, Palanas, Sangalang and Poblacion in the town of Lemery; Pansipit in the municipality of Agoncillo; Poblacion 1, Poblacion 2, Poblacion 3, Poblacion 5, in the town of Talisay; and Poblacion in San Nicolas.

Phivolcs said that a fissure was also documented across the road connecting the municipalities of Agoncillo and Laurel also in Batangas.

According to Phivolcs’ Volcano Monitoring and Eruption Prediction Division chief Mariton Bornas, the new fissures were produced through the intrusion of magma into the Taal edifice.

“Kapag may magma na tumutulak paakyat ng bulkan, kapag medyo malaki ang volume na sumisirit paakyat, talagang nade-deform nito ang mas malaking area, hindi lang ‘yung volcano island,” Bornas said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Bornas added that fissuring, as well as the strong and more frequent quakes near Taal also indicates movement of magma beneath the volcano which may further lead to explosive eruption.

“Ang hinuhudyat ng malalakas na lindol at nung fissuring na nararanasan ngayon sa Batangas ay mayroon po tayong malaking volume ng magma na ini-intrude sa edifice at maaari po itong i-putok bilang isang malakas na eruption,” she explained.

Citing historical records, Bornas said fissures were also spotted in the same areas where the new cracks were found a day before Taal’s eruption in 1911.

“Kung susunod ito sa 1911, pwedeng ganito ang maaari nating i-expect although hindi natin sinasasabi na ganitong-ganito ang mangyayari, pero pwede,” she said.

The Phivolcs official warned that there is a possibility that the grounds where the cracks were found might sink.

“Ang pwedeng mangyari d’yan, ngayon hindi pa masyadong humihiwalay ‘yung lupa, pero nung 1911 pagkatapos ng malakas na pagputok, lumubog ‘yung lupa d’yan,” Bornas said.

“Fissuring muna and then eruption and then lumubog,” she added.

Bornas emphasized that residents where the cracks were spotted should already leave their homes and evacuate to safer areas.

“Dapat naka-evacuate na ang mga areas na ‘yun. We would like to reiterate, ‘yung enforcement ng evacuation is very important para sa safety ng ating mga kababayan,” she said.

Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano. This means that

Hazardous explosive eruption of Taal is still possible within hours to days as Alert Level 4 remains in effect over the volcano, a notch below the highest alert level.

Level 5, the highest, indicates an ongoing eruption, Phivolcs said.

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