National Geographic : 1912 Apr
TAAL VOLCANO AND ITS DESTRUCTIVE ERUPTION nificent series of photographs giving an impressive idea of the play of titanic forces which was then occurring (see pages 330 and 333). It was at once evident that every weak point in the crater floor had given way. From the former site of the green lake, at one end of which was located the act ive crater in 1888, there rolled an enor mous column of vapor, which towered skyward unil caught by the morning breeze, and was then swept, black and threatening, westward over the neigh boring province of Cavite. The 1904 crater, which had long been choked with mud and stones, was again in full activ ity, and a small new crater had formed to the north at a point where the long continued existence of a large solfatara had led us to anticipate that there would be a break in the event of an important eruption. From the central and more important of these three openings enormous masses of black mud were thrown to a great height at frequent intervals, boring their way through the column of white steam. There were frequent loud explosions of sufficient intensity to shake the solid earth. The varied phases of this imposing display tempted Mr. Martin to expose plates until his stock became practically exhausted, when he returned to Tanauan with but a single plate ready for use. THE TERRIFIC EXPLOSION At i :05 on the following morning he was awakened by an extraordinarily heavy explosion and saw an enormous column of mud rising from the crater, which was distant some 1 miles. There was a magnificent display of "chain" lightning about the black mud cloud, and the explosion had awakened and terrified every one. Twelve minutes later there was a rain of mud at Tanauan. It was followed by a fall of fine, dry volcanic ejecta. Shortly before 2 o'clock the sky, which had been obscured by the black mud cloud, cleared completely. While Mr. Martin and his companions were still discussing the imposing phe nomenon which they had witnessed, there occurred at 2:20 two terrific explosions, 339 or I should perhaps say a double explo sion, for the second report succeeded the first so quickly as almost to coincide with it, and people a little further away noted but one concussion. We now know that this explosion tore most of the floor out of the main crater of Taal Volcane and hurled it skyward. A huge black cloud continued to rise for a long time. Its ejection was attended by a most ex traordinary electrical display, which was visible for 250 miles. The explosion was heard over an area more than 600 miles in diameter. In the subprovince of Kalinga the wild men thought that the dynamite stored at Lu buagan by the government for use in road construction had exploded, and throughout the following day delegations from various settlements visited the town to ask the lieutenant governor if this was the case. Mr. Martin says that the cloud at first rose steadily, but "soon the wind got hold of it and it spread out all over the country, leaving us in total darkness. Wet mud started to come down in Tana uan about 12 minutes after the explosion and kept on falling for not less than half an ho ir, until it covered the ground." A WONDERFUL ELECTRICAL DISPLAY In Manila the shock of the explosion was so great that people leaped from their beds in terror, thinking that there had been some great catastrophe in the city. Their attention was instantly at tracted by the glare of the electrical dis play, and many of them realized that Taal must be in full eruption. The thou sands who witnessed the extraordinary sight agree that it beggared description, and few of them have even attempted to describe it. The streams of electric fluid seemed to be of extraordinary breadth. With the instinct of the photographer still alert, Mr. Martin exposed his one remaining plate; but, unfortunately, in the excitement of the moment he failed to realize that a flash of lightning makes its own exposure; and, fearing that the steady glare resulting from the myriad discharges would fog his plate, timed his shutter to one six-hundredth of a second, with the result here reproduced.