Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Indonesia's Mt Sinabung Erupts 77 Times In One Day

The newly reactivated mount Sinabung in Indonesia is intensifying its eruptive phase, with more than 77 eruptions recorded in one day alone. The exclusion zone around the volcano has been increased to around 7km (3+ miles) and over 20,000 people have now been evacuated. Lava flows are now issuing from the mountain summit, and advancing at the foot of the volcano. There have been no fatalities so far, due to the advanced warnings and evacuation protocols in place. The government in Indonesia has a quite advanced volcanic monitoring system, due to the many disasters it has faced in the past.

Indonesia possesses more active volcanoes than any nation on earth, and has frequent volcanic disasters. Over 127 volcanoes in Indonesia are classified as active, with many others being classified as either dormant or extinct. However the classifications of dormant or extinct are indeed assumptions based on the last period of activity, and other factors, and should never be relied upon to determine whether or not a volcano can reactivate in the future. Volcanoes with no known eruptive activity during the Holocene have been known to erupt without warning, such as Chaiten in Chile, or Nabro volcano in Eritrea.

Sinabung was such a volcano, having had no prior confirmed activity before its reawakening in 2010.

Lava flows from the summit of Mount Sinabung on Jan 6th, 2014
The now nearly constant explosive activity has released devastating pyroclastic flows, and has covered nearby farmland in layers of heavy ash. Crops are likely to be wiped out, and any remaining livestock in the area is likely to be severely hurt by the ash, and more than likely die of complications and/or starvation.
Mount Sinabung lies directly NW of the Toba supervolcano, which, over 70,000 years ago, had a devastating eruption that nearly wiped out the human race, leaving some 10,000 surviving individuals to repopulate the human species. There is no indication that this eruption will have any effect on the Toba supervolcano, which has never had a historical eruption.

Indonesia lies directly on the rim of the Pacific Ring of Fire, a chain of volcanoes that encircles the subducting Pacific Plate. The majority of these volcanoes are stratovolcanoes, like Sinabung, which typically have explosive and effusive eruptions.

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