Source: Robin George Andrews of National Geographic.
Of course, forecasting eruptions is fraught with difficulty. Donovan points out that we don’t know how the properties of the magma under Taal have changed since the 1977 eruption. And while looking to old eruptions for clues is helpful, the past can only tell you so much.
“Every eruption is different,” Venzke says. “There’s nothing guaranteed.”
It’s possible that this grim future may not transpire, and that we’ve seen the worst of what Taal has to offer this time, Donovan says: “It might just generate a bit of ash, have a few fire fountains, then go back to sleep again.”
Alternatively, what we are seeing here could perhaps be the opening salvo of a far longer eruption sequence, says James Hickey, a geophysical volcanologist at the University of Exeter. And even if the eruption becomes more explosive, some, all, or none of these hazards may occur.
Still, it is sensible for people in the region to assume the worst-case scenario is unfolding and to take reasonable, responsible action, Donovan says. If you are still around Taal and haven’t yet heeded instructions to evacuate, it's best to immediately get away from low-lying areas near the volcano. Always listen to local authorities for updates.
In the meantime, volcanologists will wait with bated breath, since lessons from the past show just how dangerous this particular peak can be.
“When I saw yesterday that Taal was in eruption,” Bartel says,” I was somewhat horrified.”