Activity at the Philippine caldera Taal continues to increase. The latest update on Taal from PHIVOLCS reports 21 earthquakes under the volcano in the 24 hours between April 17-18, meaning the frequency of these events is still rising since it began to kick up a few weeks ago. Combined with the high carbon dioxide flux from Taal and “a slight intensification of steaming in the main crater lake”, PHIVOLC is concerned that the volcano is heading towards a new eruptive period – however reports from some news agencies that Taal is “on the verge of eruption” (video) are clearly sensationalist.
The Philippine government has been urging people living near Taal to voluntarily evacuate, especially the old and infirm. However, if the activity continues to increase, the government has warned that it will forcibly remove people who refuse to follow the evacuation orders. Some residents have chosen to leave the area to temporary shelters and over 1,300 people have left islands in Taal Lake, but as with many periods before an eruption, it can be difficult to convince people that the threat of an eruption is very real. The current Alert status at Taal remains at 2, meaning signs of a magmatic intrusion have been observed.
UPDATE: Now, this is a mess in the making. As PHIVOLCS and the Philippine government warn people away from Taal, Department of Tourism Secretary Alberto Lim says that Tagaytay, a tourist destination within 5 km of the caldera lake, is safe for tourists to visit, even up to alert status 4. Stuff like this can only lead to more confusion about what people should do about the restless volcano.
Top left: An undated image of the crater lake on Volcano Island within the larger Taal Lake – all part of the Taal caldera.