The Philippines volcano is on Alert Level 4, meaning geologists predict Tall could erupt “within hours to days”. On Wednesday, January 22, a NASA astronaut on the International Space Station (ISS) snapped a thick cloud of ash drifting from Taal.
The photo was taken about 250 miles (402km) up in space by ISS Flight Engineer Christina Koch.
NASA said: “On January 22, 2020, an astronaut aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of resuspended ash near Taal Volcano island.
“According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, strong low-level winds lifted ash lying on the volcano and sent it streaming southwest toward the town of Dacanlao.
“Following an eruption in early January 2020, Taal remains on a Level 4 alert, with a hazardous eruption still possible.’
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Mrs Koch also shared the picture with her more than 172,800 Twitter followers.
The astronaut tweeted: “Keeping watch on the volatile Taal Volcano in the Philippines from the @Space_Station.
“Just south of Manila, it stands out ash-covered and otherworldly in the middle of Taal Lake against the surrounding green highlands.”
Taal volcano woke up from a 43-year-long slumber on January 12 when a steam-driven phreatic eruption belched ash and smoke.
The following day, January 13, Taal erupted for a second time – a volcanic eruption.
Geologists from the Philippine Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS) believe hundreds of small tremors and low-frequency earthquakes around Taal are a sign of magma moving underground.
Keeping watch on the volatile Taal Volcano in the Philippines
Christina Koch, NASA astronaut
The magmatic intrusion could be a sign of more “eruptive activity” brewing.
Taal volcano is located near the southern coast of Luzon Island, Philippines.
You can see in the NASA picture the crater sits in the centre of Taal Lake – a volcanic caldera that has filled with water.
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To the south of the volcano is the coastal city of Batangas, with Dacanlao and Balyan Bay to the southwest.
East of the volcano is Lupa and to the northeast is Calamba.
On Friday, January 24, PHIVOLCS urged people to stay clear of an 8.7-mile-wide (14km) emergency zone around Taal.
The agency said: “Alert Level 4 still remains in effect over Taal Volcano. This means that hazardous explosive eruption is possible within hours to days.
“DOST-PHIVOLCS strongly reiterates total evacuation of Taal Volcano Island and high-risk areas as identified in the hazard maps within the 14km radius from Taal Main Crater and along the Pansipit River Valley where fissuring has been observed.
“Based on PAGASA wind forecast, if the eruption plume remains below 5km, ash will be drifted to the municipalities west and northwest of the Main Crater; however, if a major eruption occurs during the day and the eruption column exceeds 7km, ash will also be drifted over the western parts of Laguna and Quezon provinces.”
Luzon residents have also been warned against prolonged exposure to ashfall.
Aircraft have also been warned of volcanic ash and “ballistic fragments” in the air space around Taal.
As of Friday morning local time, the volcano has also been spewing 246 tons (224 tonnes) toxic sulphur dioxide into the air.
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