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Activity at Semeru, Indonesia 24 May 2008

Posted by admin in activity reports, Indonesia, Semeru.
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A correspondent has helpfully provided more information derived from the Indonesia media about the current alert at Semeru (reported here) and has translated local news reports, throwing more light on the nature of the volcano’s activity. The ‘heat clouds’ referred to in some reports clearly were pyroclastic flows.

The reports come from the Javanese Kompas newspaper and were apparently sent in by Blackberry from an observer on the spot. A 4-kilometre exclusion zone has been established around the volcano because of the danger posed by pyroclastic flows, and the Directorate of Volcanology and Risk Mitigtion warned on 23 May ‘although there is no cause yet for evacuation, residents should be alert up to 10km from the mountain centre in case of potential lahar, lava or pyroclastic flows’. A large number of earthquakes (more than 40) was registered between 00:00 and 18:00 on 23 May along with significant ash emissions. Since 15 May Semeru has released 12 pyroclastic flows with a range of up to 3 kilometres, and there is the potential for future flows to reach as far as 9 kilometres from the volcano.

It’s impossible to get any information from the Directorate of Volcanology and Risk Mitigation website at the moment because, as is not infrequently the case, the site is down. I hope no-one has to depend upon it for information in a crisis. Fortunately (perhaps) Indonesians are used to living with volcanoes: as my correspondent puts it, ‘The local villagers are so used to seeing these eruptions and so used to all the warnings etc it generally needs lava or a pyroclastic flow flowing through their back yard before they will move or evacuate’.

Global Volcanism Program: Semeru – summary information for Semeru (0603-30=)
Direktorat Vulkanologi Indonesia – Directorate of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, Indonesia
Pusat Vulkanologi & Mitigasi Bencana Geologi – News and information portal for the Directorate of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, Indonesia

Heat clouds raise Indonesian volcano alert – AFP, 21 May 2008
Mount Semeru volcano in Indonesia’s East Java heats up – Top News, India, 21 May 2008
Radius 4 Km dari Kawah Semeru BerbahayaKompas, 23 May 2008 (Indonesian)

The Volcanism Blog