Archive for the ‘Indonesia’ Category

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

June 15, 2015

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.

Australian “bullying” gave Indonesia no chance to exercise clemency

April 29, 2015

I sometimes felt that Australia’s attitude and rhetoric about the execution of the Bali 9 was going to be counter-productive but generally assumed that governments must have exercised their collective minds and knew what they were doing. I did wonder sometimes why Indonesia was always being painted into a corner with no exit route. I assumed that some quiet diplomacy was ongoing but apparently it was not.

The drug-runners were initially arrested following an Australian police tip-off to their Indonesian counterparts. And when the Australian police sent the tip-off they were very well aware of

  1. Indonesia’s hard-line and death sentences for convicted drug dealers, and
  2. that Australian citizens were the subject of their tip-off.

In fact the chain of event which led to the death penalty and the executions were started by Australia.

But now this from the New Zealand Minister of Internal Affairs suggests that the Australian strategy – if there ever was a strategy – and their rhetoric may not have been very well thought through. They made it almost impossible by their public noise for Indonesia to exercise clemency without also being humiliated.

Stuff: Peter Dunne, the Minister of Internal Affairs, is accusing Australia of “playing international bully” in its handling of Indonesia’s execution of two of the Bali nine.

In his regular newsletter, Dunne Speaks, the MP for Ohariu said Australia seemed more interested in pushing Indonesia around than saving the lives of two of its citizens.

Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran were executed by firing squad early Wednesday morning (NZ time) on drug smuggling charges.

Australia has led international condemnation of the executions, two of a number of foreign nationals killed in Indonesia today, but Dunne turned attention on Australia’s diplomatic efforts.

“While nothing excuses the barbarism of Indonesia’s actions, the various interventions by Australia… all served to make it virtually impossible for Indonesia to get off its high horse with any semblance of dignity,” he wrote.

“From the crass linking of Australian aid after the Boxing Day tsunami to favourable consideration of this case, through to independent commentary in Australia on the eve of the executions that the actions of President Widodo actually showed his political impotence, Australia appeared hell-bent on humiliating Indonesia into submission, rather than saving the lives of its two citizens.”

Dunne said the episode could provide a lesson for New Zealand, with Antony de Malmanche currently on trial on drugs charges in Indonesia.

“We need to be talking quietly to the Indonesians now, letting them know our views, and working with them to see if a reasonable solution can be effected. The process needs to be ongoing, not just left until the last few months.”

Foreign Minister Murray McCully’s office pointed to comments he had made on Wednesday about the executions.

“While we respect Indonesia’s right to set and apply its own laws, and understand the immense harm the country suffers from drug trafficking, we are dismayed that these executions have proceeded in the face of continued appeals from some of Indonesia’s closest friends.”

What did the government of the Philippines do that Australia did not?

Mount Sinabung gets deadly as sightseers return

February 1, 2014

Mount Sinabung which has been erupting since September last year, has caused the first fatalities reported. It erupted again on Saturday ejecting rocks and ash and killing 14. The evacuation zone which extended upto 7km from the mountain has been relaxed to 5km, but the 14 people killed were all from the Suka Meriah village which is within 3km of the volcano. A group of sightseeing schoolchildren is reported to be among those killed. Another 3 people were severely injured when  apparently they had been visiting a family grave and their abandoned homes when the volcano spewed its ash.

On Friday the disaster management agency had allowed people living in villages more than 5km from the mountain to return home. Sixteen villages have been evacuated and residents are not supposed to visit for any reason.

The first eruption occurred at 10:30 a.m. and lasted for eight-and-a-half-minutes, spewing 2-kilometer ash and 4.5-km thick clouds to the south. The second eruption took place at 10:38 a.m. for just over four minutes, followed by another eruption at 11:27 a.m. for 84 seconds.

A villager run as Mount Sinabung erupt at Sigarang-Garang village in Karo district, Indonesia's North Sumatra province, February 1, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer

A villager run as Mount Sinabung erupt at Sigarang-Garang village in Karo district, Indonesia’s North Sumatra province, February 1, 2014.

Sources: Jakarta Post, BBC, Reuters

Related: 5 km radius around Mount Sinabung volcano evacuated as eruptions continue

The next VEI 5+ volcanic eruption is overdue

5 km radius around Mount Sinabung volcano evacuated as eruptions continue

January 13, 2014

Mount Sinabung keeps rumbling on – and more than just rumbling as eruptions with material ejected upto 5,000m and lava flows are observed. Around 25,000 people have been evacuated for 5km surrounding the volcano and the authorities are urging those within a 7km radius to leave.

JakartaGlobe:More than 25,000 people have fled their homes following a series of eruptions and lava flows from Mount Sinabung volcano, an official said Sunday. Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra sent hot rocks and ash up to 5,000 meters (16,000 feet) in the air “several times” on Saturday, National Disaster Mitigation Agency emergency response director Tri Budiarto told AFP.

“So far, 25,516 people have been evacuated. There’s nobody now within a five-kilometer [three-mile] radius of the crater. We are urging those living within seven kilometers southeast of the crater to move too,” he added. Hot lava, which has been spewing from the volcano for the past two weeks, has flowed into a river and filled up valleys with pyroclastic material, he said.

“There were small secondary explosions when lava flows came into contact with the water, but there are no casualties so far. We are urging people not to carry out any activity in the rivers,” he added.

Mount Sinabung is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia that straddle major tectonic fault lines, known as the Pacific Ring of Fire. It had been quiet for around 400 years until it rumbled back to life in 2010, and again in September last year.

During the 19th century there were volcano eruptions having a Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) of 5 or greater on average every 11 years. During the 20th century the average was 7 years with the greatest interval between VEI5 eruptions being 23 years. The last VEI5 eruption was in 1991 and now – 22 years on – a VEI5 eruption is overdue.

Mount Sinabung started its rumblings back in September 2013 and it may be that the continuing small eruptions relieve sufficient pressure to prevent a VEI5+ eruption. But the odds that the next VEI5 eruption occurs in or around Indonesia is still quite high – and it could be that Sinabung is just bubbling up to be a major eruption. However the eruptions are being monitored so closely that any such imminent eruption will probably be detected early enough to get most people out of harms way.

Mount Sinabung Indonesia - Google Maps

Mount Sinabung Indonesia – Google Maps

Just coincidence? Burst of solar activity (Kp index) and 18 Indonesian volcanoes move to alert status

August 7, 2011

It may just be coincidence but I am inclined to believe that the sun does influence geo-magnetic activity on earth.

1.  The K7RA Solar Update


Solar activity markedly increased this week, with the sunspot number rising to 130 on Monday, August 1 — the highest since a reading of 131 on April 14, 2011. The average daily sunspot numbers more than doubled this week compared to last, rising nearly 54 points to 99.3. ……

NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center: “Three coronal mass ejections (CMEs) are currently en route to Earth, with the commencement of geomagnetic storming expected early to mid-day on August 5 with the arrival of the CMEs associated with the August 2-3 events. The third of the string, seemingly the fastest CME, may catch up with the first two in the next 12-18 hours, compressing the plasma and enhancing the embedded magnetic field. Storming levels are expected to attain G3 (strong) conditions. The current Solar Radiation Storm may experience a kick with the shocks and attain S2 (moderate) thresholds.

“Some level of geomagnetic disturbance is expected to continue through August 7 as the series of CMEs affect the Earth. Continued activity is likely from these regions as they continue to rotate off the visible solar disk over the next seven days. The Space Weather Prediction Center will continue to monitor this event as it unfolds.”

 Estimated 3-hour Planetary Kp-index


article image

2. The Jakarta Post:

Sun, 08/07/2011 1:05 PM

Eighteen Indonesian volcanoes are on “alert” status, two of which are at Alert Level 3, which is called “Siaga”, the Volcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation Center says. Center head Surono said Sunday in Jakarta the erupting Mount Lokon in North Sulawesi and Mount Ibu in North Maluku were the two volcanoes at Siaga status. The center has adopted four levels of alert status: “Normal” (Level 1), “Waspada” (Level 2), “Siaga” (Level 3) and “Awas” (Level 4).

Surono said the conditions at Mt Lokon and Mt Ibu were currently considered most worrisome because they had been consistently erupting searing clouds affecting a radius of 2.5 kilometers. …… 

Surono added that 16 other volcanoes were at Level 2 alert status, “Waspada”, including Mt. Papandayan and Mt. Guntur in West Java. “Locals have reported several quakes,” he said. ….

Surono said that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had summoned him on Saturday to report the volcanoes’ status and the center’s preparations to anticipate possible disasters.

H/T –


Solar effects will give increased volcanic and earthquake activity in the next 2 years

Mount Lokon erupts on Sulawesi island

July 15, 2011

The threat of an eruption of Mount Lokon has been increasing since June 9th. The alert level was raised 4 days ago that an eruption was imminent and more than 4,000 people have left or have been evacuated. The volcano finally erupted in the early hours of Friday morning with 55 separate eruptions over 6 hours but with the advance warnings and orderly evacuations there is no significant threat to human life. Mount Lokon last erupted in 1991.

Mount Lokon erupting

Mount Lokon erupting: image Reuters

Earthquake Report:

“In general people are not afraid as the volcano which follows a more or less regular ash burst interval of 10 to 15 minutes.  Some of them are living as close as 2 km from the crater which could be very dangerous if a strong explosive eruption would send a pyroclastic flow along the slopes of the volcano. People should have learned lessons from the eruption of Merapi volcano which killed hundreds of people last year.” 

The Jakarta Globe reports:

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) announced that Mountain Lokon in Tomohon, North Sulawesi erupted on Thursday. 

The eruption spewed ash, sand and other volcanic material as high as 1500 meters above the ground, causing forest fires around the volcano. “There was a big eruption around 10:31pm local time (1531 GMT), which saw ash, sand and rocks thrown 1,500 meters into the air,” government volcanologist Kristianto told AFP.

Another eruption took place at 12.30 a.m. Fifty-five eruptions took place in the six hours following the first eruption. More than 2,500 people were evacuated to four shelters. There were no reported deaths or injuries from the eruption.

There has been a significant rise in volcanic activity at Mount Lokon on Sulawesi island since June 9, prompting hundreds of people to evacuate the area. The volcano’s status was raised to its highest red alert level after it spewed ash 500 meters into the air over the weekend, leading to a 3.5-km evacuation zone being established in case of a bigger eruption.

“There is no mass panic because the community has already been warned of the situation and we are continuing to evacuate people,” added Kristianto, who like many Indonesians uses only one name.

Around 28,000 people live within the evacuation zone.

The 1,580-meter Mount Lokon is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. It erupted in 1991, killing a Swiss tourist.


Mt. Merapi eruptions continue into second week

Mount Bromo in the Tengger Caldera ejects ash cloud – disrupts Bali flights

January 28, 2011

From AFP:

JAKARTA — Several international flights to and from the resort island of Bali were cancelled or diverted Thursday to avoid dangerous ash spewing from an Indonesian volcano, officials said.

Ash from rumbling Mount Bromo, a popular attraction in East Java province, had spread to the island popular with foreign tourists and surfers.

“We received information from Darwin that the ash from Bromo has reached 18,000 feet (5,500 metres) in the southeast direction and has affected some parts of Bali,” transport ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan told AFP.

Mount Bromo (Indonesian: Gunung Bromo), is an active volcano and part of the Tengger massif, in East Java,Indonesia. At 2,329 metres (7,641 ft) it is not the highest peak of the massif, but is the most well known. The volcano belongs to the Bromo Tengger Semeru National Park. The name of Bromo is derived from the Javanese pronunciation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation.


The Tengger massif in Java at sunrise, showing the volcanoes Mt. Bromo (large foreground crater, smoking) and Mt. Semeru (background, smoking) : Wikipedia

In recent times Mt. Bromo erupted in 2004 (2 deaths) and also in November 2010 when Mt. Merapi was erupting.

Last week saw eruptions also from Anak Krakatau. Anak Krakatau has grown at an average rate of five inches (13 cm) per week since the 1950s. This equates to an average growth of 6.8 metres per year. The island is still active, with its most recent eruptive episode having begun in 1994.

Mt. Merapi rumbles on and rains cause cold lava floods

January 10, 2011

Mount Merapi has continued erupting in the past two or three weeks but at much lower intensities than the  fatal eruptions which occurred on October 26 and November 5.

Island Crisis reports that:

YOGYAKARTA, INDONESIA (BNO NEWS) — With heavy rainfall accompanied by sporadic but strong wind currents, Indonesia’s Yogyakarta was hit by the largest outflow of cold lava and mud, locally known as lahar dingin, since October’s Merapi eruptions, local media reported.

The cold lava damaged several bridges and created chaos as traffic flow was cut off for around 18 hours on one of the city’s main highways, which was flooded under meter-deep lahar in several areas. “In addition to destroying the Gempol main bridge on the Putih River, lahar also destroyed bridges in other villages, leading to the isolation of hundreds of residents in seven hamlets,” Heri Prawoto, head of the Magelang district’s Disaster Management Office, told the Jakarta Globe.

But the resilience of humans is amazing.

The Merapi Golf Course in Yogyakarta, covered in ash. image credit: DigitalGlobe.

In Merapi’s Shadow, a Tourism Boom

The golf courses may be covered in volcanic ash, but tourists are flocking to Indonesia to see devastated villages near the recently eruptive Mount Merapi volcano.

Tourists with a curiosity about the aftermath of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions are being courted to the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta, Reuters reports.

The eruptions, which began on Oct. 26, killed more than 350 people and created nearly 400,000 refuges. That destruction, it seems, is a selling point for local travel agencies desperate for tourists’ dollars. “In the new volcano tour package, we’ll take customers to explore the closest village to the peak and see how bad the devastation is,” Edwin Ismedi Hinma, of the local tour agencies association, told Reuters. “Then we’ll take them to a river to watch cold lahars flood past.”

Borobodur courtyard reopened but 90% of ash remains to be removed

November 22, 2010
Borobudur temple view from northeast plateau, ...

Borobudur temple view from the northeast: image via Wikipedia

The Borobodur site was closed to the public after the eruptions of Mount Merapi began on Oct. 26. The temple complex was partly reopened for tourists over the weekend. Yogyakarta airport is now open. The Jakarta Globe reports:

Officials are concerned the acidic soot will hasten the wearing of the temples, Borobudur in particular, which is covered in up to 3 centimeters of ash. “Since Nov. 11, we’ve taken emergency action to keep Borobudur clear of ash by cleaning up 72 stupas and the main stupa, and wrapping them in plastic,” Junus Satrio Atmojo, the Culture and Tourism Ministry’s head of historical and archeological sites, said Saturday.

The government has allocated a total of Rp 600 million ($67,200) to clean up the Buddhist temples of Borobudur, Pawon and Mendut, as well as the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, he said. “Cleaning up Borobudur and the three other temples requires that we be extra careful and work step by step to prevent the ash lodging in the pores of the rock surface,” Junus said.

“It’s not a question of hiring more people to help clean up, but of the equipment that we need to buy.” That includes Rp 248 million for Borobudur. “Cleaning up Borobudur and the three other temples requires that we be extra careful and work step by step to prevent the ash lodging in the pores of the rock surface,” Junus said. “It’s not a question of hiring more people to help clean up, but of the equipment that we need to buy.”

“Our experience from the Aceh tsunami in 2004 tells us that cultural heritage and historical buildings are always the last to be budgeted for in the disaster recovery fund, and that’s why we need outside donors,” he said.

“Donors don’t necessarily have to give us cash. We’d be grateful for items such as plastic sheets, hoses, baking soda and anything else we can use to clean the monuments.”  Junus added that Unesco, which lists Borobudur as a world heritage site, had only been able to offer sending an expert to gauge the damage, as it had no experience dealing with volcanic clean-ups. “We politely declined, as we have plenty of Indonesian experts,” he said.

Temple officials have reopened the Borobudur yard and the first of the temple’s nine levels to the public, but the rest of the site remains closed for cleaning.

“That’s because we haven’t been able to remove all the volcanic ash covering the temple,” Iskandar M Siregar, head of technical services for Borobudur management, said on Saturday. “We’re using brooms and dust pans to clean it up, so we can’t go any faster,” he said. “So far, we’ve collected 20 cubic meters of ash.” Iskandar said this represented less than a tenth of the total volcanic ash at the site.

He also rebuffed calls to wait for the rains to wash away the ash, pointing out that this would only complicate matters. “That’s because the ash would wash into the temple’s drainage system and damage it,” he said.

Clean-up crews are trying as much as possible not to use mechanical equipment, which could damage the rock surface of the temple, he said.
“We have to hurry because the ash has a corrosive character, that accelerates the weathering of the stupas and stones,” Iskandar said.

Flights resume from Yogyakarta, Mt. Merapi quiet

November 21, 2010

AFP reports:

Indonesia’s Yogyakarta airport, which had been closed for about two weeks by the eruption of the Mount Merapi volcano, reopened for operations Saturday, officials said.

Merapi, which means “Mountain of Fire”, has killed 283 people since it began erupting last month and more than 270,000 are still living in temporary shelters.

Volcanic ash and clouds belched high into the sky threatened the safety of aircraft, causing dozens of international flights to and from the country to be cancelled.

But the mountain’s activity level has now decreased, although an alert remains in place.

Transportation Ministry director general of aviation Herry Bhakti told AFP: “The Yogyakarta airport has resumed operation at 12:00 pm (0500 GMT) today. The effect of volcanic ash has been insignificant.”

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