Taal’s Phreatic Eruption Explained for Kids

Phreatic eruption as sketched by my fellow geologist, Dr. Encarnacion.

Hi, fellow homeschoolers. Feel free to share this info to your kids as part of your lessons. 🙂

This is a nice drawing of a fellow Geologist, Dr. John Encarnacion, illustrating how the Taal phreatic eruption may have occurred. The ascending magma heats up the rocks and the water table within the rocks. Remember that since Taal has been erupting for thousands of years, the layers of rocks around it are mostly volcanic materials – which are permeable and thus, can contain water from rainfall (we call it meteoric water: meteorology, remember?).

So the magma is rising through the pathway we call conduit while also heating up the rocks and water table within the volcano. Steam is generated because of that and when enough pressure is generated below, the volcano blows its top off with such power that’s similar to several C4s exploding, powdering the rocks into smithereens, thus, producing so much ash. Please take note that the ash consists of volcanic glass (silica), some sulfur grains, fine rock fragments, and other minerals. And no, they don’t contain diamonds, however glittery those grains seem.

The update we need to wait from PHIVOLCS is if Level 4 for Taal will proceed to Level 5, or downgrade to Level 3. If it’s Level 5, it means that a pyroclastic explosion is imminent. If you are familiar with the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, that’s mostly pyroclastic event. We can expect more ash, more gas from the volcano, more violent eruption/s. To say that it’s going to be a hot mess is mildly putting it. The aftermath is even more dangerous – the lahar flows are scary, because thick ash layers can be remobilized by rainfall causing destructive erosion on affected areas. We’ve seen that happen after Mt. Pinatubo erupted with lahar flows affecting nearby towns for months, even years. Not to mention the tremors associated with the rising magma which the people in Tagaytay and nearby towns are experiencing at the moment. Lake tsunami (technically called Volcanic Tsunami) is also a possibility so people living around the lake should definitely evacuate.

Let’s pray that Taal Level 4 downgrades to Level 3 then 2, then to its usual Level 1.

Now what can we do with the ash you’ve collected? Include them in your compost, take them out of your drainage canal. They can harden like cement when mixed with water. People can say they don’t care about it. But they really should. Clogged drainage means more floods for us in the future. So please clean those drainage canals. The ash layers are heavy too, take them off your roof.

Include the ash in your compost mixed with biodegradable materials and include some worms in them if you can handle them (I know I can’t). Let the bacteria and worm turn those ash into rich soil which you can use for your garden. Ash materials are rich in magnesium, iron, calcium, some sulfur, some sodium, and some potassium.

To know more about Volcano Alert Levels, visit the official PHIVOLCS website: https://www.phivolcs.dost.gov.ph/index.php/volcano-hazard/volcano-alert-level


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