The Taal volcano on the island of Luzon, Philippines, erupted for the first time in 43 years on January 12, shooting ash and lava more than a mile into the sky. At least four people were killed as a result of the explosive eruption, and up to 44,000 people fled the nine mile danger zone surrounding the area.
The volcano emitted so much ash that NASA satellite images have revealed that the island is still covered in a thick layer of debris, with the space agency describing it as looking more like the surface of the Moon.
Satellite imagery shows how virtually all of the island is covered in a blanked of ash two months on, with experts claiming the ash could seep into the rocks where it will remain for millions of years.
NASA’s Earth Observatory said: “In the days and weeks that followed, the eruption dropped a layer of unusually wet, heavy ash on the surrounding landscape, withering vegetation and turning the lush fields and forests of Volcano Island a ghostly grey.
“Two months later, the ash-damaged landscape still looks more like the Moon than the tropics. On March 11, 2020, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 acquired an image of Taal that underscores the consequences of the ashfall.
“For comparison, the other image shows the same area on December 6, 2019.
“Aside from a few green promontories on the north side of the island, ash has altered much of the landscape, including several villages along the coasts.”
Erik Klemetti, a volcanologist at Denison University, said: “Most of the ash has likely washed away by now, but signs of it will persist for millennia in the rock record.
“Most of the ash that fell within the caldera is in the process of getting concentrated into gullies and streams or deposited into the lake.”
Following the release of a giant plume of ash over the weekend of January 12, the ash travelled as far as Manila, forcing the city’s major airport to cancel all flights.
The volcano also spurted fountains of hot lava and steam, with the plume reaching more than a mile high into the sky.
The ash plume was clearly visible from the city of Tagaytay, a popular tourist hotspot in the country.
Jon Patrick Yen, a restaurant customer in Tagaytay, said: ”We were having lunch when we heard rumbling.
“We saw the volcano erupting. It rained and some small pebbles fell to the ground.
“I did not expect to see such spectacle. We just went by to eat.”
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