Where in Southeast Asia

Vulcan Point

I am on Vulcan Point in Crater Lake on Taal Volcano Island in Taal Lake on Luzon Island (an island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island) in the Philippines!

photo by Geometrx

On the island of Luzon in the Philippines, about 35 miles south of the capital city Manila, is a truly unique volcano.  Taal Volcano is the smallest active volcano in the world, with an elevation of 1,020 feet at its highest point (311 meters).  But the crater lake that has formed inside its caldera is the largest lake on an island in a lake on an island in the world.  And it may be able to boast that it contains the largest third-order island (island in a lake on an island in a lake on an island) in the world: an island known as Vulcan Point.  (Vulcan Point has competition closer to home: an unnamed, third-order Canadian island on Victoria makes the same claim).

Taal Lake lies within a 16-19 mile-wide caldera that was formed by a series of explosive eruptions between 140,000 and 5,380 years ago.  Calderas form when eruptions eject enough magma and other material that the weight of a volcano’s peak can no longer be supported and it collapses, creating a wide, bowl-shaped depression.  Over time, precipitation may collect and fill the caldera, making a lake.  Volcanic activity can continue under the surface, however, with continuing eruptions producing cinder cones that eventually rise above the water’s surface as volcanic islands.  Taal Volcano Island (8.9 sq mi) was built up by this process of serial eruptions within the caldera and is comprised of overlapping cones and craters.  Its single crater lake (known as Main Crater Lake) wasn’t formed until a powerful eruption in 1911 that lowered the elevation of Volcano Island anywhere from 3-10 feet.  Vulcan Point (the small island within Volcano Island’s Main Crater Lake) is the tip of one of Taal Volcano’s cinder cones.

Taal is the Philippines’ second-most active volcano.  It last erupted in 1977 but began rumbling again in 1991.  In addition to its superlative geological features, its lake is also home to the world’s only freshwater sardine (called the Tawilis) and freshwater sea snake (the Garman).