Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conquering Taal Volcano

Taal Volcano is a complex volcano on the island of Luzon in the Philippines. It is situated between the towns of Talisay and San Nicolas in Batangas. It consists of an island in Lake Taal, which is situated within a caldera formed by an earlier, very powerful eruption. It is located about 50 km (31 Miles) from the capital, Manila. It is one of the active volcanos in the Philippines, all part of the Pacific ring of fire.

To get to the Taal Volcano Lake, one has a 20 minute banca ride from Talisay, Batangas to the shores of Taal Volcano. One may the opt to walk or run the trail or ride a horse for around 20 minutes to reach the crater. The view around the crater is breath taking. The serenity is soul-quenching. Eccentrically located near the middle of the lake, is a lonely islet, small enough to host 5-10 people. Whats exotic living organisms lurk in this terrain? This is truly a unique geographical wonder- an islet in a lake in a volcano in a lake in an island! Bravehearts my opt to go down the lake but I think this is prohibited due to the recent increased seismic activity in the area. The trail is as diverse as it gets- sand, rainwater, mud, volcanic rock, grass, gravel- and the odor ranges from horse manuric, muddy to floral. I think this is one of the most challenging off road courses in the Philippines- a trail runner's dream or nightmare. Hope that North Face will sponsor a train run here- will definitely join if it ever happens.

The volcano has erupted violently several times, causing loss of life in the populated areas surrounding the lake, the current death toll standing at around 5,0006,000. Because of its proximity to populated areas and eruptive history, the volcano has been designated a Decade Volcano worthy of close study to prevent future natural disasters. It was thought to be named as "a volcano inside a volcano" because many believed that the lake that circles the volcano was once a crater or mouth of a volcano.

The Decade Volcanoes refer to the 16 volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior (IAVCEI) as being worthy of particular study in light of their history of large, destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. The Decade Volcanoes project encourages studies and public-awareness activities at these volcanoes, with the aim of achieving a better understanding of the volcanoes and the dangers they present, and thus being able to reduce the severity of natural disasters. They are named Decade Volcanoes because the project was initiated as part of the United Nations-sponsored International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

The following volcanoes were selected as the 16 current Decade Volcanoes:

* Avachinsky-Koryaksky, Kamchatka, Russia
* Colima, Jalisco and Colima, Mexico
* Mount Etna, Sicily, Italy
* Galeras, NariƱo, Colombia
* Mauna Loa, Hawaii, USA
* Mount Merapi, Central Java, Indonesia
* Mount Nyiragongo, Democratic Republic of Congo
* Mount Rainier, Washington, USA
* Sakurajima, Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan
* Santamaria/Santiaguito, Guatemala
* Santorini, Cyclades, Greece
* Taal Volcano, Luzon, Philippines
* Teide, Canary Islands, Spain
* Ulawun, New Britain, Papua New Guinea
* Mount Unzen, Nagasaki Prefecture, Japan
* Vesuvius, Naples, Italy