Kyrios
Credit: The Sun - A KILLER volcano which has claimed the lives of thousands erupted in the Philippines today triggering spectacular lightning storms and terrifying tsunami fears.
crisis interventions

On The Verge Of Dangerous Eruption – "Calming" The Taal Volcano

What are Interventions?These are brief undertakings where Kyrios endeavours to avert or lessen the severity of a natural disaster in a bid to reduce loss of lives, destruction, and impacts of climate change.

Overview

Outcome

Volcanic activity subsided within weeks following Kyrios' intervention to calm the volcano. Alert level fell from 4 to 1 in 2 months, averting a potentially cataclysmic eruption.

Crisis Situation

  • Taal volcano erupted for the first time since 1977 on 12 January 2020, spewing ashes 14 km into the atmosphere
  • 460 000 people were ordered to evacuate
  • Total agricultural damage as of 19 January 2020 exceeded P3 billion (~ USD 63 million)
  • Alert status stayed heightened for days, indicating more destructive eruptions could happen within hours or days

Timeline of Events

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After 43 years of being restive, the Taal Volcano suddenly rumbled back to life on 12 January 2020, marking the beginning of an unnerving eruption sequence. The volcano spewed steam, ash and pebbles 14 km into the sky, generating volcanic lightning and intense earthquakes which rocked the region. Ash clouds blew 100 km north, reaching Manila and forced the closure of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport and cancellation of more than 500 domestic and international flights. Several areas near Taal Volcano experienced power outages due to ashfall, lava mud, and rocks.

Within a few hours, the Philippines Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) raised the danger level around Taal three notches from level 1 to 4 on 12 January, indicating hazardous eruptions could take place within a matter of hours or days.

National authorities ordered a “total evacuation” for people in high-risk areas within 14 km radius from the main crater, affecting nearly 460 000 people. As of 13 January 2020, 25 000 people were evacuated. Some residents could not move out immediately due to a lack of transportation and poor visibility while others refused to leave their homes and farms.

Ashfall from the eruptions had devastated the surrounding agriculture activities such as fisheries, livestock and high-value crops. As of 19 January 2020, agricultural damage caused by the volcano reached P3.22 billion.

Taal is a very small volcano, but a dangerous volcano,” said Renato Solidum, the head of the Volcanology Institute. The volcano is surrounded by Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, and Quezon which are densely populated provinces – 25 million people live within 60 miles of the volcano. More explosive eruptions would upend the livelihoods of these people.

“The biggest bang is not always at the beginning of an eruption,” said Jenni Barclay, a volcanologist at the University of East Anglia. “On a timescale much longer than the threat of a hurricane, something else could happen that’s even bigger.”

In the days following Taal’s eruption on 12 January, the alert status had been kept at Level 4 as there was continued magmatic activity and frequent volcanic earthquakes, which meant a hazardous explosive eruption could happen anytime, soon.


Why did Kyrios intervene?

While volcanic eruptions are not uncommon, Taal’s eruption caught Kyrios’ attention when Kyrios was informed of the situation on 18 January 2020. At that time, the alert status was still at Level 4. Kyrios quickly surveyed the volcano and foresaw that a more violent eruption would follow, since the volcano had already become active. Kyrios warned that Taal’s volcanic eruption would be so massive that it would cause the entire landmass of the Philippines to quake and parts of it to sink, triggering tsunamis and severely impacting neighbouring countries.

Scientists around the world alluded to the possibility of a more powerful eruption in view of Taal’s history of lethal eruptions and plentiful supply of magma. They advised people to be prepared for a worst-case scenario where Taal could erupt and generate a plethora of volcanic hazards – ash pollution, falling debris, volcanic earthquakes and base surges that could sandblast everything in their path. Explosions could also dislodge parts of the volcanic island that would then fall into Lake Taal and swamp the lake’s shorelines.

Such a grave disaster would cause tremendous loss of lives and dire consequences to the region. Unable to bear seeing so many lives suffer as a result of such calamity, Kyrios was determined to reduce the volcano’s activity in hopes of averting the cataclysmic eruption.

How did Kyrios do it?

On 18 January 2020, Kyrios intervened to calm the volcano to prevent another catastrophic eruption.

A week following Kyrios’ intervention, the activity of the Taal volcano began to subside. PHIVOLCS lowered the volcano’s alert level from 4 to 3 on 26 January 2020 to reflect this. People displaced by the volcano began making their way home. Nearly a month following Kyrios’ intervention, on 14 February 2020, alert level 2 was put in place signalling a further reduction in the volcano’s activity. Another month later, on 19 March 2020, PHIVOLCS downgrade Taal Volcano’s status to alert level 1, which meant that no eruption was imminent.

TIMELINE

12 January 2020

Alert Level raised from Level 1 to Level 4

Taal Volcano started spewing ash in the afternoon due to "steam-driven" or phreatic eruption, which happens when water beneath the ground or on the surface gets in contact with hot magma. Within hours, PHIVOLCS has raised the alert thrice.

2.30pm Alert Level 2 (increasing unrest)

4.00pm Alert Level 3 (magmatic unrest). The ash column reached one-km high.

7.30pm Alert Level 4 (hazardous eruption imminent). The ash and rock fragments column reached up to 10-15 km due to continuous eruption. Frequent volcanic lightning was observed.

By night, ashfall from Taal Volcano reached Calabarzon and Metro Manila.

13 January 2020

Alert Level 4

PHIVOLCS update report. Lava fountains due to a magmatic eruption are observed. Ashfall is reported in numerous areas. Larger particles of rock fragments from the volcano are also reported. "New lateral vents" opened up on the volcano's northern side. A total of 144 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded in the Taal region since 12 January, and PHIVOLCS warns that it may lead to "further eruptive activity." Batangas is placed under a state of calamity.

14 January 2020

Alert Level 4

Surface activity of the Taal Volcano's main crater slightly eased, and fewer emissions are seen. However, there is still continuous magmatic activity and frequent volcanic earthquakes, which indicates that a "hazardous" eruption is still possible. New cracks are spotted on the ground in several locations.

15 January 2020

Alert Level 4

The volcano's ongoing eruption generated dark grey columns of ash and hot magma, towering to an estimated 1,000 metres. Portions of the Pansipit River have dried up. A total of 520 volcanic earthquakes have been recorded since January 12. New cracks on the ground are spotted once again. Cavite, Batangas' neighbouring province, is placed under a state of calamity. At least 3 Taal evacuees in Batangas died due to cardiac arrest.

16 January 2020

Alert Level 4

PHIVOLCS update report. "Intense" tremors persisted as magma is still rising although the volcano showed "weak" emission. PHIVOLCS is looking at the possibility of a lull for a considerable period of time. The total number of earthquakes since January 12 has risen to 595, but no additional cracks on the ground are reported.

17 January 2020

Alert Level 4

Alert Level 4 still in place - hazardous eruption remains possible within hours to days.

18 January 2020

⭐️ Kyrios begins intervention

Worried about the imminent threat of a powerful eruption, Kyrios commences intervention to calm the volcano.

Kyrios: "Since this volcano has become active, then it will certainly erupt. And once it does, the sheer explosive force of the eruption will not only cause the entire landmass of The Philippines to rumble and claim numerous lives, but also affect the islands of neighbouring nations. Parts of The Philippines‘ landmass will sink, and may even trigger tsunamis."

19 January 2020

Kyrios continues to expend considerable effort and energy to reduce the volcano's activities.

26 January 2020

Signs of volcano stabilising - downgrade to Level 3

Kyrios' intervention has begun to bear fruit. It is reported that the Taal Volcano Network has been recording a downtrend in volcanic earthquakes, from 944 to 420 events per day over the past week. Daily total seismic energy released also declined.

Prompted by an "overall decrease in the level of monitoring parameters," which included less frequent volcanic earthquakes, weaker steam or gas emissions at the main crater, and the slowdown of ground deformation, PHIVOLCS has downgraded Taal Volcano's status to Alert Level 3. However it says the unrest has not yet stopped and that people should remain cautious.

14 February 2020

Downgrade to Alert Level 2

In view of less frequent volcanic earthquake activity, stabilising ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and Taal Volcano Island (TVI) edifices and weak steam emissions at the Main Crater indicating decreased magmatic unrest, PHIVOLCS has lowered the alert status of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 2 to reflect the overall decreasing trend in the level of monitoring parameters.

19 March 2020

Downgrade to Alert Level 1

Taal Volcano's condition in the succeeding four weeks after step-down to Alert Level 2 on 14 February 2020 has been characterised by low-level volcanic earthquake activity, stabilising ground deformation of the Taal Caldera and Taal Volcano Island (TVI) edifices and weak surface activity at the Main Crater and the Daang Kastila fissure.

Finally PHIVOLCS is able to lower the alert status of Taal Volcano to Alert Level 1 to reflect the overall decreasing trend in the level of monitoring parameters.

Once again, Kyrios is very thankful that the tireless interventions paid off, avoiding a potential explosive catastrophe in the region that has worried Kyrios and scientists alike.

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