Mt. Sinabung lava dome now at 3.3 million cubic metres and still growing

Mt. Sinabung started erupting on 27th August 2010 after being dormant for 400 years. It has caused evacuations a number of times and has then quietened down only to start again a few weeks later. Lava flows have reached some 5 km from the summit on a number of occasions. 16 people were killed in early 2014. Mt. Sinabung gives the impression of building up for what could be the next VEI5+ volcanic eruption. One visual indicator is the size of the lava dome building up though it cannot be predicted as to how large a lava dome can get before it collapses. Multiple small collapses are much preferable to a single large collapse. But this lava dome has now grown to about 3.3 million cubic metres.

The shape and size of lava domes varies greatly, but they are typically steep-sided and thick. The thickness can range anywhere from a few meters to nearly one kilometer in height. The diameter or length of these domes can range from a few meters to many kilometers. The form that the dome takes is a function of many factors including strength and viscosity of the lava, as well as the slope of the land they are erupted onto.

On June 6th the lava dome at Mt. Sinabung was assessed to have reached 3.1 million cubic metres having grown around 100,000 cubic metres from the day before. Further assessment since then has been masked by cloud and smoke from the simmering and ongoing eruption. Yesterday “Sinabung spewed hot clouds reaching 3,500 meters to the south and 2,500 meters to the southeast.”

Wrath of Sinabung:: Burning lava streams from the peak of Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, Thursday night. The volcano has been spewing lava 100 times a day since the alert was raised to the highest level on June 2, monitors say. (Antara/Zabur Karuru)

Burning lava streams from the peak of Mount Sinabung in Karo, North Sumatra, Thursday night. The volcano has been spewing lava 100 times a day since the alert was raised to the highest level on June 2nd. (Antara/Zabur Karuru) – Jakarta Post

Jakarta Post:

“In today’s eruption, Sinabung’s hot clouds simultaneously moved to the south and southeast. The hot cloud releases to the south reached 3,500 meters, or farther than the ones in the southeast, which reached 2,500 meters. This is because the lava dome is in the southern side of Mt. Sinabung,” Deri told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

He said Mt. Sinabung still had a huge potential to erupt as the volume of its lava dome was still quite large.

“From the latest data, the volume of Mt. Sinabung’s lava dome has reached 3.3 million cubic meters. Eruptions previously occurred have not yet fully abolished its lava dome; thus, there is still a potential for massive eruptions,” said Deri.

Pyroclastic flows are caused by collapse of parts of the lava dome. On 14th June around ten flows were observed descending to the south-east and through the east-North-east channel.

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