‘Taal’ trends online after reports of minor quakes in Batangas province

April 22, 2020 - 9:35 PM
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Taal Volcano
An undated photo of Taal Volcano in early 2020. (The STAR/Michael Varcas)

The keyword “Taal” trended on local Twitter on Thursday afternoon as the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology recorded several earthquakes in Batangas which is near Taal Volcano.

In its earthquake bulletin, Phivolcs recorded a number of minor earthquakes that occurred in the province, most notably in the towns of Mabini, San Pascual and Calaca which is near the volcano that erupted on January.

At least 20 seismic activities were recorded in Batangas on April 22. Of which, the strongest tremor with magnitude 4.6 occurred at 11:19 a.m.

Its epicenter was traced North 19° West of Mabini and it was determined to be volcanic in origin.

The quake was felt at various intensities with Intensity IV as the highest, meaning it was “generally felt by most people indoors and outdoors while hanging objects swing considerably.”

Here are the intensities reported by Phivolcs:

Intensity IV – Mabini, Batangas
Intensity III –
Bauan, Batangas
Intensity II –
San Nicolas and Taal, Batangas
Intensity I –
Agoncillo and Lemery, Batangas

Instrumental Intensity:
Intensity II – Calatagan, Batangas

‘Prayers for Taal’

The series of earthquakes near Taal Volcano prompted local Twitter users to appeal for prayers with the presumption that it might be getting active again.

Taal has volcanic activity again today and related earthquakes then followed. Oh no, Taal not now. Lord God, I’ve been blessed by you but please also spare my countrymen from more catastrophe, we can’t handle it anymore,” a Twitter user wrote. 

Another online user took a screengrab of the earthquakes recorded by Phivolcs in Batangas and urged Filipinos to “include Taal Volcano” in their prayer intentions.

“This country cannot afford another calamity with this pandemic happening. Pilipino tayo! Mas matatag sa kahit anong unos na dumating. God bless the Philippines,” he wrote.

Another online user, meanwhile, shared a screengrab of her conversation with a friend who reportedly lives near Taal Lake.

“They’re currently experiencing (a) series of earthquakes but she said it wasn’t like the normal quakes but they feel like something moving beneath,” the user said.

In the conversation, the online user’s friend described the tremor as “unusual” and claimed that it was not the kind one typically feels in earthquakes.

“Hindi siya ‘yung nag-sha-shake. Ramdam mong gumapang sa lupa,” the friend said.

When the Twitter user asked if it was “magma,” the friend replied that she had no idea.

Mabini, the epicenter of the strongest minor quake in Batangas on Wednesday, recorded at least eight tremors of tectonic and volcanic in origin.

Phivolcs describes a volcanic earthquake as a type of tremor that is “induced by rising lava or magma beneath active volcanoes.”

On the other hand, tectonic earthquakes are produced by sudden movement along faults and plate boundaries

The science agency in its Taal Volcano bulletin issued at 8:00 a.m. said that Alert Level 1 is maintained over the caldera.

It means that “sudden steam-driven or phreatic explosions, volcanic earthquakes, minor ashfall and lethal accumulations or expulsions of volcanic gas can occur and threaten areas within the Taal Volcano Island.”

The alert level also means that while there is a “magmatic, tectonic or hydrothermal disturbance” in the volcano, “there is no eruption imminent.”

Phivolcs said that the Taal Volcano island, especially the vicinity of the main crater and Daang Kastila fissure, must not be inhabited or accessed by anyone.

The January eruption

The volcano previously erupted last January 12 after more than 40 years of its slumber and spewed ashes across the region of Calabarzon and some parts of Central Luzon and Ilocos.

Ashfall was also experienced by residents of the National Capital Region.

The eruption caused several class suspensions and disruption of work schedules and airline activities.

RELATED: Future uncertain for communities displaced by Taal volcano, trapped by coronavirus

It also destroyed the homes of residents on the volcano island, mainly composed of fisherfolk and tourist-dependent families.

The volcano reached Alert Level 4 which was described as having “intense unrest” wherein a hazardous eruption was “possible within days.”

Phivolcs eventually lowered Taal Volcano’s alert level to “one” on March 19, two months after it erupted.