Playing the waiting game at Taal

A partially-eroded scoria cone in the Taal volcano caldera.

As I mentioned earlier this week, PHIVOLCS has raised the Alert Status at Taal in the Philippines to 2 (out of 5) after increasing tremors and gas emissions from the volcano's crater lakes. Now, the Philippine government is taking this threat very serious, sending divers, helicopters, rescue equipment and medical teams to the area near the volcano in case an eruption occurs. Provincial officials in Batangas have asked 5,000 people living near Taal to voluntarily evacuate - however, as with many evacuations, people are reluctantly to leave their homes and animals. In fact, a member of the Batangas Provincial Disaster Coordinating Council thinks that many people won't leave until Taal is on Alert Level 4, citing that few people evacuated during that last threat of eruption in 1991. Schools have no closed, either, in the area near the volcano.

Members of the Philippine Coast Guard did venture to Volcano Island - the current main vent area for Taal - and noted discolored water, the smell of sulfur and area of hot water in the lake. These would all seem to be signs that something is brewing under the lakes in Taal's magmatic system - however, passive degassing underneath the lakes occurs all the time (video) in the form of carbon dioxide seeps. PHIVOLCS has not issued a new status update for the volcano on their website, however, Director of PHIVOLCS Renato Solidum Jr. says that the main crater area on Volcano Island is off-limits due to the threat of steam explosions and toxic volcanic gases. The Red Cross is also reminding people of what to do if the volcano were to erupt - in all, it sounds like officials in the Philippines are getting ready in case Taal does spring back to life.

More like this

Mt. Rainier WA US ice quakes first since 1998…

The large avalanche Sat. caught 11 climbers in different groups and couple of solos but one still missing - climbers didn't check-in for risk but were lucky to have some guide groups who did check conditions in a safer area but leaders of groups close enough to dig out 10.

Eyj perhaps with "ice quakes" knowledge we'll learn high risk quakes that mean awakening volcano activity.

By (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hello all!

Taal has some rather nice features that might give all some good oportunities for speculation. Let's say that it starts off with a rather small eruption in the cindercone volcano that purportedly is the worlds smallest volcano (mini-taal). That would give us all the chance to speculate endlesly on whether and when the larger volcano on Volcano Island (medium-taal) will go off (and at the same time give people the chance to run for the hills). And when the larger Volcano Island (medium-taal) has erupted we can start speculating about if the Caldera (XL-Taal) will go off, for the sake of the locals let's hope that doesn't happen, for the hills aren't big enough to save them really if you run up them, the place is quite simply to crowded and the volcano to big for them all to get away.

OT - warning, stop reading if you are not a full-blown volcanocamoholic!!!

While waiting for that I have started to convert my couch with some rather nice actuating servos (think theme park chairs here) set to work in the 1 to 5 herz region.
I tried it with an algoritm interpreting Jóns helicorder and it worked out splendidly earlier today. Got myself a rather good nether-part massage from the tremors a few hours ago.

That combined with some high res cams on the projector and a big keg of beer, who need's any Football worldcup championship? (For those of the american persuasion; I am not talking about american soft-rugby here, I'm talking about what you strangely enough term soccer.)

Only problem with my coming ascension to Nerdhood is that 2,4 herz is the worst vibration possible to shake yer bubbles out of the beer... Something my company notised after installing it for the first time at a theme park serving beer, it all became known as the Summer of Burpy Vegas:)
Before that it had only been installed at beer-free Disney-parks, and kids always burp of cola so nobody noticed...

And now back to the waiting:)

@2 Carl LOL! Why not add another projection for footie? It's online on multiple stations around the world. If I could do it, it would be a nice memry to add to my collection of watching the world cup in bars around the world....

By parclair NoCal USA (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

I am very much learning, but have been looking at the situation in Iceland.

There seems to be a lot of seismicity ongoing in two regions, apart from Lady E, and I wondered if any of you could clarify if the ongoing swarming of earthquakes around Hengill area,

in a fairly fixed location over the last several weeks and this large EQ bump (before it disappears off the time scale) means anything?

While there has been lots of seismicity around Vatna, it seems to be spread out along the fault line, whereas this lot near Hengill seems quite fixed in its specific location. What, if anything, does this tell us?

Many thanks for your help.

Beautiful views in all cams. Can see ice clearly on Thorolsfelli for the first time in a long while.

By Carla - Seattle (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Local seismicity could be related to drilling at the Hellisheidi Geothermal Power Plant, the largest in Iceland and one of the biggest developed geothermal complexes (in conjunction with Nesjavellir geothermal energy operation) in the world. It's locoated ~10 Km to the north if the concentrated EQ focus you observed.

There is also the Icelandic section of the International
Deep Drilling Project, with wells to 5+ Km, with the goal of capturing geothermal energy under supercritical conditions. News on drilling and well tests have been bit lacking since Sept 2009/

Typical wells at Hellisheidi are a couple Kms in depth. is just completing the final planned phase of incremental geothermal power development of the site, although there is talk of adding even more generation capacity later on.

Not saying that the EQ activity is directly related to the geothermal complex operations, but it could be indirectly contributing by augmenting tectonic stress loading in a very active fissure/fault area.

Hi, We just had a Spezial DeepSpace Live on Eyja and its ash in our museum Ars Electronica Center in Linz. I was allowed to talk 15 mins and told the story how people on this blog followed and are following this and other eruptions. I praised this blog, its host and all the cool people here as good as i possibly could. I learned so much here and i told my visitors they can do that too, from their couch at home they can see what the volcanoes of the world are up to at the moment. From the comments i got afterwards, .. people really enjoyed the show and many said they are going to check this place out.
Something else:
Jon Frimann ( i still dont know where to find the `above the i and o on my keyboard, sent me ash again on monday and i did scanning electron microscope images on the 3 different samples again. I will upload some on the ars electronica flikr acount on monday. Jon Frimann already has all the images i did ( on tuesday) As soon as i am done i will post the links to the albums here again. ( But only the best ones, the album is getting too big. At the moment you can only find my pics from some weeks ago on flikr.

By Birgit, Austria (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Birgit - You apparently had no trouble in producing the grave accent (`), which is not the one used in Icelandic, it's the acute one (´) we are interested in.

At least on my keyboard - and on a German one - the accents sit right beside the backspace key, and using them for accented letters is simple: you press the accent key and the one you want to put the accent on right after the other - in fact, to produce the individual accent marks, you need to press space after. So, ó is ´+o, à is ´+i. Here are the Icelandic vowels with accent-like diacritical marks Ãá Ãé Ãà Ãó Ãú Ãý. Copy-paste to a text file and use, if your keyboard does not support just typing them.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

I appologize. I just spent many many hours the last week to produce a good show and i am a total failure when it comes to tipping, grammar and many other things. I am using an english keyboard even though my native language is german.
But i am so glad Jón FrÃmann, (i now used copy paste) sent this ash. It was really so very interesting. I expected results with many holes in it. If you do a google images search for SEM volcanic ash, you get to see pics from ( for example) hawaiian ash. But Eyja ash looks nothing like that. I did check in other microscopes too. And i would say 50 % is volcanic glass. But there were really complete crazy things to be seen. And i have no clue what this could possibly be.
Look at this…
I found that in a sample sent by Christian, i found nothing which looks only remotedly alike since the first viewing.
I asked the vistors of my museum what they think that looks like, they said toothpaste.
I would really like to know what this stuff really is.

By Birgit, Austria (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Birgit - Heh. After you set up the gallery, I went through the pictures - and I copied that one into my files. It really is a strange one. If it were larger, I'd say, "man made", but it is so small. It looks, indeed, like tooth paste or a candy bar; something extruded from a machine.

When I saw all the holes in the ash, I thought, "no wonder it blew apart!"; those holes must have been bubbles of high-pressure gas - and wonder of wonders: those holes were filled with even tinier particles. Clearly, very unhealthy stuff to get into your lungs.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Yeah and what is very astonishing for me Colour does not normally display in SEM images. But sometimes there is this white stuff, i can grab. And in the samples of ash which were sent which had been touched by water, you find little to none. So the white stuff is obviously vanishing in water. I find that fact rather interesting

By birgit, Austria (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Birgit Austria ...resident geologist says he thinks the extruded-looking stuff is isometric magnetite crystal ( a skeletal crystal.)

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@10 Birgit Austria ...resident geologist says he thinks the extruded-looking stuff is " isometric magnetite ( a skeletal crystal.) " Anyone else?

By birdseyeUSA (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@8 Stigger. Thanks for the post of the eyewitness account. I'm looking forward to reading the account.

@10 Birgit Austria-- wow. That is a strange mineral. Amazing the little airholes in the other stuff. Thanks for your generousity in posting.

@11 Kultsi-- There's an accent key on your keyboard? No wonder it's so hard for 'mericans to do accents-- I've got to press like 3-5 keys at a time to get the accents. It's easier to just hope to be forgiven. ;-)

By parclair, NoCal USA (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Birgit, parclair, etc.

Indeed, I have accent keys on my keyboard - and the Finnish language has absolutely no use for them. Using foreign words and languages is common, though, so I think that's why.

I did a bit of digging into keyboard layouts at and it turns out the US standard keyboard is severely limited in functionality. Changing it to use the US International layout greatly helps, the only real drawback being the apostrophe key becoming a nul key that produces acute accent with vowels and only producing an apostrophe when followed by a space or a letter not meant for acute accent.

Changing the active keyboard layout on the fly is a very simple thing in Windows; I currently have three.

The latest Finnish layout - which I don't use, yet - seems to be very versatile, being able to produce all the Nordic characters.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

The second EQ in 2 days in the region:
5.3 2010/06/11 02:25:13 17.755 119.475 4.4 PHILIPPINE ISLANDS REGION

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Birgit Keyboards apart, your job an Jón FrÃman's make us all proud to be here. It's a great honor to share this space with such brilliant and nice people. Vielen Danke!!!!!
BTW For those with available time I strongly suggest to read throughout this blog's earlier archives. Like Erik said, you'll be surprised with the many interesting discussions not only about volcanoes but a little bit of every exciting theme "extruded" from volcanoes, geology and all.

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Renato, if you look at the 'Maps' section under each USGS EQ report page, you'll see an entry for 'Historic Seismicity'

It is a GOOD THING to check out the map for 1990-present and 2010-present, for frequency perspective wrt magnitude and location to seismically zones, with features such as ridges, faults and rifts.

@Passerby #20 Thank you. I've just checked at PHIVOLCS and looks like these magnitude EQs are not uncommon around the archipelago. Scary, though, isn't it? We get a 5,0 Mg once in a blue moon in our country.
I was also checking on volcanic activity from Guatemala and Ecuador:
Alert level raised to orange for high risk zones on Tungurahua:…
And lava flows continue on Pacaya. "This activity still poses threat to the inhabited areas" , said in a statement the State National Coordinator for Disaster Reduction (Conrad).

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

But USGS maps are definitely more detailed. Amazing!

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

@jbcedar{at} [1]

Well, according to some accounts the snowpack in Washington State is at about 112% of normal. I'd like to see the positional info on those sub 1.0 quakes they were talking about. That would be a nice plot. :)

@Lurking Just an amateur observation here: have you noticed the circular pattern formed by recent earthquakes on the USGS real time seismic map for the US? Starting from California extending to Sth Nevada, then Utah, than a gap, than Yellowstone, Idaho, Wyoming and Montana border, than to the West towards Oregon /Washington Border and then following the coast towards southern Oregon and back to California. You're the guy who can "see" those things and put them in 3d.

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Meanwhile, sky is clear over Eyjafjallajökull. No eruption!

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hmmm... and all I had to do was look.

It appears that they already lay the data out in time vs depth series plots, to no need to fiddle with it and try to make one myself...

While I don't see any "stacked" quakes in the last month or so at Ranier, you do have to wonder about the 3km deep quakes being snowpack.

Bah... their plots aren't close enough in time to see where they are at... Here is my rendition of the most recent ones.

Depth verses time, color denotes magnitude.

Data source:

For a lat-lon representation the one they have there is nice.

@Renato I Silveira

Yes, I have noticed. While I may be wrong, the best way to visualize it is as follows, imagine a carpet being pushed up against a wall.

Once it hits the wall, it stops sliding. If you had a really sensitive microphone sitting at the carpet/wall meeting point, you would hear the little squeaks of the carpet fiber rubbing on the wall. If you keep pushing the carpet will develop a bow in it as the extra material has no where to go but up.

Again, if you had that really sensitive microphone at the bending area, you could hear the fibers rubbing against each other.

This is a rough idea of what is going on in North America. The Pacific plate is the wall, and the back bone of the mountain ranges are the bump in the carpet.

There are other forces at work, but that is the gist of why there seems to be a line of activity roughly on a North south line at that region, back from the coast.

Just today there were two quakes at the Wasatch Front in Utah. More carpet bending.

Hope that helps.

Of course, it helps! Love your outstanding graphs. We need, you, Lurking! Thanks!

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Nah, ya don't need me, all I do is graph stuff and read. Speaking of such, here is a small collection of those "other forces at work" that I mentioned. Each one of these structures impart some sort of weakness to the crust and tend to have a few quakes from time to time. Most notable are the quakes near Oklahoma City. They tend to be in the area of the southern extent of the Nemaha ridge, I know of one quake that occurred at the north end, but most of the discussion I ran across tried to attribute it to a UFO or a meteor. Funny how it was at the North end of that purple line.

Not shown but deserving mention... the Horst and Graben of the Basin and Range, Death Valley etc.. The odd lineament in Washington/Oregon, the Central Kansas Uplift, The Mississippi Embayment... the list goes on. All coupled with the carpet thing.

Something interesting to note. See the north east end of the line of the Snake River calderas? That's Yellowstone. Notice how the quakes are North, South, and sometimes in front of it (off to the North East) Another idea is that these quakes may represent a "wake" as the hotspot/plume tail moves off to the Northeast. As it moves along (actually the plate moves) the area moving over top of it heats up and expands (making quakes). As the crust moves off of it it cools and contracts (making quakes).

I thought that I would at least mention it. Dollars to donuts says it one or both of those ideas in play.

Eyjafjallajökull is huffing and puffing steam this morning. The wind up there is quite brisk, so the steam gets swished away without rising much.

Looks like things are winding down - a lull, at least: few quakes, very little tremor (except from wind etc, 20 m/s yesterday) and emissions look like plain steam, which is going to go on for some time: there is water in abundance and quite a pile of hot rocks. There might be gasses, but they cannot be seen.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

You guys all rock! What a great series of entries.

Birgit that's fantastic stuff! I hope Erik picks up on this and gives us another lesson in interpreting the structure of the ash. The cross section of that strange one looks like a piece from a jigsaw puzzle which is very fitting given how much we all tried to figure out all the pieces. Maybe Eyja is just giving us a sign. (btw Kultsi hat Recht mit den Tasten
ó ò (hey that looks cool!)
... oben links zwischen der à und Löschen-Tasten)

Carl, you are right on Taal. High population, constrained geography, lots of water, southwesten monsoon going on. History of just about every risk in the book (tsunami, pf, ash, calderas etc. etc), flimsy housing in Manila's slums, very eruptive history. Let's hope we only have to witness a mini Taal event. I've certainly got my fingers crossed that it doesn't come to much as the volcano could be a real killer.

Renato, what do you mean by "floating" cities... do you mean that heat is distorting the light from the city in the background? Otherwise the cam doesn't look very different to me at all. óò

By bruce stout (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Hello to all,

New update on the Eyja obviously very quiet now.3 new quakes though under Katla..

By Adrian,Dorset, UK (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

PS welcome to the club by the way!! (This place is very addictive)

By bruce stout (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

PPS don't forget to press the play buttons on those links!!

By bruce stout (not verified) on 10 Jun 2010 #permalink

Crater Lake Resort

The resort offers a unique twist to the usual island experience. It is home to many species of birds and fish including the rare maliputo, which is a kind of fresh water mackerel that can be found in the waters around volcano island.

The resort pavilion is the perfect place to hold gatherings for up to about 100 people. It has a wide floor area that is ideal for family gatherings, team-building workshops, or special celebrations. Here, you can enjoy the cool breeze of the fresh island air while spending time with friends and family.

Fresh steamed mackerel. Yummy!

@33 34 35.

Hi Bruce,

Umm,I think it will take a few more than 3 quakes to get me excited. I just happened to mention them in passing,as it were.
I have seen the timelapse sequences before but not for sometime and yes, it does put things into context.
P.S.Thanks for the welcome but I have been around for some time.

By Adrian,Dorset, UK (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@ Adrian, pardon sire! Didn't mean to do you a disservice.

By bruce stout (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@38 Bruce ! No probs my friend. I do more lurking here than Lurking himself...
@36&39 Raving,yes it is a beautiful place. I just hope that the only poor creatures that get steamed are the Mackerel.

By Adrian,Dorset, UK (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@ Passerby

If you haven't been, and you get a chance, go to Hellisheidi - it's an awesome sight and unlike any industrial building I've ever been to before. It's as if someone had commissioned Apple to design a power station - all glass, bleached wood and shiny metal.

The staff are very friendly and you get to see a lot of what's going on behind the scenes.

By Mike Richards (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@Lurking @birdseye I was on the other thread, have to go now. I'll post my comments later. Thank you!

By Renato I Silveira (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@41, 42. Have seen reports that the Hellisheidi plant is a top tourist destination.

@29: your plot follows the regional temperature and precip trends for April-May. No surprises in you 2vtxg87 plot.

I posted a couple of comments in threads in Mar-April here noting elliptical continental, shallow-EQ patterns for Eurasia and the US. In Eurasia, its a tectonically active plate collision zone with bolides (chips of primitive crust) reported caught in the squeeze.

In the US, the mostly shallow, frequent quake pattern occurs on faults, but the larger pattern appears to match enhanced winter/spring precip. caused very low riding jet stream carrying ENSO wet weather across the lower 48 and then rising sharply northward along the Atlantic coast.

So I agree with Lurking's comment on layers of mechanisms at play in the Big Picture pattern of EQs. For Ranier, it's tacitly snowquake activity associated with sharp warming trend and clearing skies in late April after a cool and wet (at least for the northern Cascades) winter. With the drop in ENSO signals, we had a return of wet, cloudy and cooler-than-average temps.

Hey guys, just an update on Katla...there are three new earthquakes, making a total of 6 recent ones there...

could this mean anything?

@bowslice (#46) - Yes, anything.

On a serious note I think we should wait until those quakes get definitely located; now the quality numbers are so-so.

If we get 30 or so at that location within the next 48 ours, I'd start getting concerned - and I don't think I'd be the only one.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

@ 46 - All the Katla quakes are very shallow (less than 1.5 km) so my guess is they are related to the ice and/or caldera structure, not magma.

@bowslice (#46) - Yes, anything.

On a serious note I think we should wait until those quakes get definitely located; now the quality numbers are so-so.

If we get 30 or so at that location within the next 48 ours, I'd start getting concerned - and I don't think I'd be the only one.

By Kultsi, Askola, FI (not verified) on 11 Jun 2010 #permalink

Uh-stigger. Just read the thing from cover to cover and all I can say is that there are some 25 million within 50 kms and a helluva lot of that is within the ten kms your priest elucidated on. Those same towns are still there and there will be ZERO chances of evacuation if it should suddenly go.

My bet is that if it suddenly got jiggy, we would see literally casualties in the millions.

By M. Randolph Kruger (not verified) on 12 Jun 2010 #permalink

#50 M. Randolph Kruger - population numbers have increased substantially since he wrote his account and yes, I agree they would have ZERO chance of evacuation.

What a great story, and not just for the success of the team. The way they all work and volunteer together is wonderful, and teaches more about life than many of their classes.

For the record I've seen your page or blog before and I'm sorry I didn't add it as a bookmark before because organized and it's well constructed. If possible can you take a look at my blog sometime or email me back with help or suggestions as to what I could improve on my blog site. Thanks.

I enjoy to play games, but I particularly like to play Big Game Hunter. Desire to find some Big Game Hunter Cheats? Just press my link. - Thank you for your email. This Internet of yours is a wonderful invention. (email to Al Gore, mocking his famous Internet invention claim, quoted in Newsweek, Mar 2000) Attributed to George W. Bush