“My home is gone forever”.
“We had so many happy memories here”.
“Everything got destroyed in the blink of an eye.”
[reports from the Taal volcano survivors from various news channels]
On January 12, 2020, the deadly Taal volcano struck the Philippines leaving around 30,000 homeless and triggering multiple earthquakes.
The toxic ash and smoke of sulfur and other noxious gases from the volcano have transformed the island into a vast carpet of lifeless grey. Once a popular tourist destination, Taal is now an uninhabitable island with a possibility of a more powerful eruption.
Here’s everything you need to know about volcanoes, why they erupt, and the impact of the Taal volcano.
What is a Volcano?
A volcano is a mountain that opens downward to a pool of molten rock under the earth’s surface. When there’s any rupture or disturbance in the earth’s crust, hot lava, volcanic ash, and several gases escape and flow on the surface. A volcano eruption can destroy an entire forest, trigger tsunamis, flash floods, earthquakes, mudflows, and rockfalls.
Different stages of Volcanoes
Scientists have categorized volcanoes into three stages based on their nature:
Active: An active volcano is the one that has recently erupted, and there’s a high probability for another eruption soon.
Dormant: A dormant volcano is a silent one that hasn’t erupted in a long time, but there’s a possibility of its eruption soon.
Extinct: An extinct volcano is the one that erupted thousands of years ago and will not erupt again.
Why do volcanoes erupt?
The earth’s crust comprises several huge solid rock slabs called tectonic plates. These plates fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. But they move at times, causing friction. These frictions cause earthquakes and volcanic eruptions near the edges of these plates. The theory behind this process is called plate tectonics. This causes the molten rocks (called magma) to melt and rise above the earth’s surface.
Number of volcanoes in the world
Of 1,500 potentially active volcanoes present worldwide, 169 are in various parts of the United States like Hawaii, Alaska, California, Oregon, and Washington. The largest active volcano Mauna Loa stands at 13,677 feet above sea level on the island of Hawaii.
Taal is the second most active volcano in the Philippines. According to volcanologists, it has erupted about 35 times in the last few hundred years. The last eruption was in 1977.
The impact of Taal Volcano
A major volcanic eruption can alter the global climate, increasing the temperature. In the past, the Taal volcanic eruptions have resulted in a loss of several lives on the island, destroyed the natural habitats of plants and animals, damaged agricultural lands and polluted water bodies.
The recent volcanic eruption has been catastrophic. Harmful gases, including sulfur dioxide, have been released into the air along with lava and ash. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology, 6,500 tons of sulfur dioxide have been emitted on an average per day! These emissions have a detrimental effect on flora and fauna of the region.
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