Tag Archives: Sinabung

Sinabung Claims More Lives

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Sadly I awoke this morning to the news Mount Sinabung in Northern Sumatra, Indonesia had claimed the lives of three farmers working in the fields by the Gembar Village. This figure has since risen to 7 and is feared to continue to rise with several more critically injured and the Red Cross and army looking for further victims.

Mount Sinabung has been in a near constant state of eruption since late 2013. Pyroclastic flows sweep down its flanks on a regular basis which has lead to 4 km exclusion zone being enforced around the summit.  On February 1st 2014 people were killed by one such pyroclastic flows.

About 10,000 people have been displaced by activity at the volcano which has been on the highest state of alert for well over a year. Sadly the volcano is positioned in a relatively poor and over populated area of the world, many people have little choice but to continue to farm on the volcanoes fertile flanks. Officials have struggled to keep the people to stick the ‘red’ exclusion zones and it is unclear how many people were on the mountain at the time of the recent activity.

Head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Willem Rampangilei has instructed Karo Regent to take quick measures to vacate the red zones (Gamber village, Simpang Empat district and Karo Regency) but they know that this is easier said then done. The pyroclastic flows caused by partial collapses of the growing lava dome occurred in a series at 14:28, 15:08 and 16:39 local time on Saturday. Rescue attempts went through the night and in to Sunday morning. An ash column remained for hours, towering over the area darkening the skys and hampering the search operation.

The pyroclastic flow captured here to the left happened only a week ago on May 16th showing the power and regularity of such activity. On May 9th a lahar swept through  Kutambaru near the Lau Barus River killing 1 and leaving one person still missing now also presumed dead.

Sinabung lay silently for nearly 400 year until springing back to life back in 2010. It has now killed at least 25 people since its rousing. Volcanism on the island of Sumatra is caused by the subduction of the Indo-Australian plate beneath the Eurasian plate along the Sunda Arc which creates the andesitic-dacitic composition magmas which are prone to such explosive activity. Sinabung sits just 25 miles north-east of the Toba Super Volcano caused by the same tectonic motion.

 

Figures 1 and 2; posted to Facebook by SkyAlert.

Figure 3; http://www.volcanodiscovery.com/sinabung/news.html

 

Recent Rumberlings

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Again I must apologise for a lack of posts although there has been a lot occurring in the past few weeks. Sadly life as an Open University student (something I will be writing on shortly), working full-time and having a rather active 7-year-old means my little old website tends to get forgotten about. But enough of my belly aching here of some of the world-wide volcanic updates for the month of May.

Shindake 

Friday at 9.59 am local time Mount Shindake on the island of Kuchinoerabu erupted with little warning. The plume scaled over 9 km high and a pyroclastic flow reached as far as the shore. The alert level was rasied to 5 and all 141 people on the island have been evacuated to neighbouring Yakushima island or the mainland and no one has been reported to have been hurt. It is thought that further explosions or more pyroclastic flows are likely as this volcano rarely produces one-off events. When Shindake erupted on August 3rd last year activity lasted for several days.

Telica

Sods law, I was in Nicaragua only a few months ago and all was relatively quiet. Now both Telica, north of the city of Leon and Concepción on the island of Ometepe have seen small eruptions in the past few weeks. Telica, the more active of the two, hit headlines on May 11th when a group of hikers filmed a small eruption at the summit. The night before a loud explosion was heard but not ash could be seen and it was still deemed safe for people to climb its flanks the next day. I will be honest the video which emerged did annoy me slightly as it is very indicative of todays society; of course when some thing explodes one does not think of their own safety, oh no we get our cameras out and film!

It produced about 50 small explosions within the next week or so before several days of apparent calm. It came back to life again on May 27th with a slightly larger eruption which created an ash column just over 3 km high. It is not thought that these explosions are an indication of movement of magma, rather phreatic eruptions.

Concepción on the other hand experienced about 60 small explosions on May 8th and several small earthquakes nearby. No ash was record although high gas emissions were recorded. By May 24th there had been 947 small explosions near the summit.

Wolf

Isle Isabella, the Galápagos’ largest island, is also home to its most active volcanoes. Last week Volcan Wolf began erupting with lava flows on its south eatern flank and producing an eruption column almost 15 km high according to the Washington VAAC. Satellite monitoring indicates that to plume is sulphur dioxide rich with little ash, with up to 200 kt of sulphur dioxide being emitted during the first 13hrs of the eruption alone.  Media coverage of the eruption has been higher than usual seeing as little threat is posed to the human residants, however the Galapagos islands are rich in wild life found no were else on Earth are being threatened by the situation. 

Piton de la Fournaise

A eruption began on May 17th and continued through to May 26th at Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island’s most active volcano. Activity and output has decreased on a whole however shows little sign of ending. 

Calbuco

The alert remains at orange for Calbuco although activity is lower than in recent weeks. Incandescence has still be osbsvered at the crater up until the night of the 26th and small gas and ash plumes tend to be about 300 m abover the summit. 6,685 people are still displaced by the 20 km exclusion zone which remains in place.
Figure 1; Shindake http://beforeitsnews.com/environment/2015/05/mount-shindake-volcano-eruption-2015-japan-issues-highest-alert-2529958.html

Figure 2; Telica http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/68521780/nicaraguas-telica-volcano-roars-to-life-spewing-ash-gas

Comparing Past and Present

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Over the last 12 months we have seen some amazing eruptions, felt the Earth shake on numerous occasions, and remembered some historic events. But was the active of 2014, both volcanically and seismically, more than any other year? I have read several spam articles recently, scare mongering that fracking has trebled earthquake numbers, God’s wrath has been shown by volcanic eruptions and even one drunken woman tried to tell me that Japans tectonic misfortune is due to the Pearl Harbor attack!

Lava field at Holuhraun, Iceland September 2nd 2014.

1. Lava field at Holuhraun, Iceland September 2nd 2014.

Now straight away I can assure you that karma or religious intervention has nothing to do with the science behind the mechanics of the planet beneath our feet. Fracking is up for debate and its effects on seismicity although even were proven the effects are still negligible. So has 2014 really been worse than previous?

Seismically

I found quiet a nice table to demonstrate this one courtesy of Wikipedia.

Number of Earthquakes Worldwide for 2004–2014

  Magnitude Ranging

Between

 2004  2005  2006  2007  2008  2009  2010  2011  2012  2013  2014
8.0–9.9 2 1 2 4 0 1 1 1 2 2 1
7.0–7.9 14 10 9 14 12 16 21 19 15 17 11
6.0–6.9 141 140 142 178 168 144 151 204 129 125 144
5.0–5.9 1515 1693 1712 2074 1768 1896 1963 2271 1412 1402 1577
4.0–4.9 10888 13918 12838 12080 12292 6805 10164 13303 10990 9795 14941
Total 12560 15762 14703 14350 14240 8862 12300 15798 12548 11341 16674

2014 actually had the lowest number of strong, magnitude 7 and above earthquakes then in the past 5 years. On the flip side of this we had many more lower magnitude  4-5.9 giving us the highest total of quakes in the past 10 years by about 900 earthquakes. 2009 actually is the strangest year on this list with a good 4000 less earth quakes of any magnitude than any other year. 2007 also stands out with an exceptional number of stronger earthquakes. It could be theorized that the greater release of stress and strain with in the crust during 2007 gave us a quiet period the following years. All though this is a very short time scale it does show that yearly variation is great.

625 people were killed in earthquakes last year with most of these during August 3rd’s Ludian County earthquake in China. 6 lost their lives in the strongest quake of the year in Iquique, Chile which was mg 8.2. Nicaragua and Papua New Guinea also had one fatality each. This is actually quiet low value with over 1500 loosing their lives the previous year or as high as nearly 300,000 in 2004!

Uplift caused by Mg 8.2 Chile Earthquake.

2. Uplift caused by Mg 8.2 Chile Earthquake.

Volcanically

2014 was a pretty explosive year with Sinabung kicking us off with a bang January 3rd as it has done this year. In February the same volcano killed 11 as people began to cross the exclusion zones to take a closer look after the pyrotechnics the month previous.

Bárðarbunga stole the show over the summer. The sleeping giant started a ‘will it, won’t it’ game months before any real activity started in August. Many feared we would see an Eyjafjallajökull 2010 style explosion that would disrupt air traffic at the height of the summer period. Earthqaukes then began to indicate magma was on the move through a dyke heading north-west from the main vent. New fears struck as experts wondered would we see devastation similar to Laki 1783. August 29th saw the start of a large fissure breaking the surface, although it has not reached the status of Laki, the eruption is still continuing today

3. San Miguel

3. San Miguel

 

The next lot a fatalities happened when Mount Ontake surprised all with a phreatic blast on September 27th. 57 lost their lives as hikers and tourists where making their way to a shrine on the mountains flank.

Fogo was the volcano to cause chaos in the final month of the year forcing thousands from their homes. Media coverage of this even has been so light on this event, I am unable to find precise news to if the eruption is ongoing. At December 23rd lava was still pouring from the Pico vent and destroying all in its path.

Obviously these are but a few of the hundreds of volcanoes rumbling through 2014. Others include; Colinma, Etna, Aire, Asonsan, Manam, Merapi, Popcatepetl, Shishaldin, Cleveland, Sabancaya, Zhupanovsky, Sheveluch, Santa Maria, Mayon, Dukono, Turrialba, Poas, Fuego, Ubinas, Tungurahua, Reventador, Pacaya, Karymsky, Kelut, Stromboli, San Miguel, Pavlof, Chirpoi and even all that does not cover them all!

But is this more than usual?

In terms of lava output, last year is definitely high up there as we saw several huge effusive eruptions(with Bárðarbunga probably producing more material than most others put together!). However in the grand scheme of things there were few other major events.

68 people lost their lives which is relatively high thinking that on average maybe one or two die yearly unless there are major volcanic events, but then when thinking like that 68 is actually extremely low.

If we were to pull out any year for increased volcanic activity, for me it would have to be the events of 1902. In a list compiled by Wikipedia* of the most deadly eruptions, although none of the top 5 occurred in 1902, 4 in the list of 40 that occurred did, meaning 10% of the most fatal eruptions occurred in the one year. Well over 40,000 were killed over these four eruptions.

4. Somber scene after Mount Pelee eruption May 8th 1902.

4. Somber scene after Mount Pelee eruption May 8th 1902.

Just over 30,000 of these deaths were caused by Mount Pelee, Martinque on May 8th. Just hours before, La Soufriere a few islands away on Saint Vincent killed 1680.

There will always be years there is more geologically activity than others. The Earth is like a living breathing organism; it is ever-changing and adapting, this is part of the reason predicting events can be tricky.  People always look to blame or find meaning behind tragedy, it’s a coping mechanism, but rarely leads to scientific truth.

Figure 1. http://mashable.com/2014/09/11/iceland-bardabunga-volcano-eruption-photos/

Table 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquakes_in_2014

Figure 2. http://www.sneakymag.com/life/the-sneakington-post-3/

Figure 3.  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/10541931/El-Salvador-begins-evacuations-due-to-volcano-eruption.html

* http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_volcanic_eruptions_by_death_toll

Figure 4. http://www.explorevolcanoes.com/Martinique-caribbean-volcano.html

Sinabung

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One of Indonesia’s most active volcanoes blast back to life today with explosions and pyroclastic flows since early morning.

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Last year Sinabung was extremely active with notable activity in January, February and October. February 1st eruption left at least 16 dead after people began to enter exclusion zones after the previous months activity had seemed to cease.

The aviation code has been raised to red as an ash column currently looks to be towering over a newly formed lava dome. Another lava dome means the threat of another dome collapse, which tends to be one of the volcanoes most deadly tendencies.

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Most locals have not returned to their homes since last year’s activities and it is belived that Sinabung has indirectly killed 11 in recent months as disease spreads through cramped the temporary accommodation for the evacuated residents.

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As always I shall keep you posted as I believe this may be one to watch for 2015!

Finally back, and the Earth has not been as quiet as this blog!

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Work, uni, a 7 year old, Christmas and life in general has made posting near in possible the past month or so. The volcanoes around the world have been just as busy as I, so here’s a quick summery;

Barðarbunga

Yes this blogs most talked about lava field is still growing. A press release from the Icelandic MetOffice states the lava flow now covers in excess of 80 cubic kilometres.

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Seismicity continues throughout the length of the dyke and within the Bardarbunga caldera albeit at a reduced rate then earlier in the eruption. Subsidence in the caldera has reached 56 meters in depth, and roughly 1.7 cubic kilometre. Gas emissions continue with elevated pollution warnings still in place through much of Iceland.

On the 29th December the fissure eruption will have been consistent for 4 months, although activity is not as great as in the earlier stages, the eruption shows no indication that the end is in sight.

Kilauea

The June 27th lava flow is still on the move at roughly 300 yards a day. The flow front currently sits less than half a mile away from Pahoa Marketplace where many of the businesses have had to close due to the on coming threat.

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Sections of the flow have been made available, first for students and journalists, and now public to see the lava up close. Eruptions also continue at Kilauea’s summit and East Rift Zone.

Pico Do Fogo

Follow recent events on the Cape Verde island of Fogo has really triggered an anger inside of me in recent weeks and this eruption will have its own post soon after this one is published. However for a brief over view, Pico do Fogo begain eruption back on November 23rd. Since lava flows have devoured local villages forcing over 1500 to flee their homes. Gas and ash emissions have nearly ceased and lava output is now low, although remaining buildings in the village of Bangaeira are still being engulfed by the flow.

Nevado del Ruiz

This Colombian volcano caused one of the greatest natural disasters of the 1980’s. Seismicity has picked up since December 3rd inducing an increased aviation code to yellow. Ash emissions have been sporadic, with a white plume drifting almost 20 km south on December 15th.

Mayon

During 9-16 December white plumes were occasionally observed rising from Mayon’s crater and drifted WNW and WSW, sometimes downslope. Three volcanic earthquakes were recorded on 9 December and one was recorded on 11 December. Alert Level remained at 3 causing PHIVOLCS to remind residents of the 6-km-radius Permanent Danger Zone (PDZ) around the volcano and the 7-km Extended Danger Zone (EDZ) on the SE flank due to recent rockfalls and threat of eruption.

Suwanosejima 

The Tokyo VAAC reported that on 14 December an explosion at Suwanosejima produced a plume that rose to an altitude of 1.8 km (6,000 ft) and drifted SE.

Sinabung

Eruptions at Sinabung have continued and pyroclastic flows and emissions seem to have increased in intensity mid December. Ash plumes have risen in excess of 20,000 ft up to December 16th.

Shishaldin

Poor weather conditions have meant little visual conformation of the Aleutian Island volcano, however due to increased seismicity it is believed that low level lava flows continue from previous weeks. The aviation code remains at orange.

This is just a small sample of the list of volcanic activity in recent weeks, for further updates visit the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program;

http://www.volcano.si.edu/reports_weekly.cfm

Sinabung Erupting Again

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Back in February Mount Sinabung sent over 22,000 people fleeing there homes and killed 16 after the stratovolcano began to erupt. All those who have already returned home may be forced to leave again as today the volcano gave another burst of activity sending pyroclastic flows up to 2 km away from the summit. The alert level still has not been raised from the third highest level, which it has been since things calmed down there earlier in the year, but it is safe to say all eyes will be back on the deadly giant.

1. Pyroclastic flow from the eruption earlier this year.

1. Pyroclastic flow from the eruption earlier this year.

The three closest villages have alerted residents to be ready to evacuate, although the order has not yet been given. Before the out burst at 1.43pm local time, its last spell was back in June. Sinabung has been erupting on and off since August 2010, after being dormant for nearly 400 years.

1. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/worldnews/10551746/Volcano-Mount-Sinabung-in-Sumatra-Indonesia-erupts-spewing-lava-and-ash.html?frame=2781658 Accessed 24/09/2014