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Lava spills into valley YOGYAKARTA - Lava flowed on Friday from Indonesia's rumbling Mount Merapi, which experts say could erupt at anytime, threatening thousands of people in the country's central Java heartland. Several thousand people have moved away from Gunung Merapi -or Fiery Mountain- which has been simmering for weeks, but officials put the total number of residents on and near the country's most active volcano at around 14,000.

Lava flows first seen spilling on Thursday from the side of the volcano, one of the most dangerous in the Pacific "Ring of Fire", were still visible, a state volcano observer said. The latest spills were filling up a valley 200 metres from the mountain's peak, several miles away from inhabited areas on its slopes and in the foothills, said the Centre for Volcano Research and Technology Development in Yogyakarta.

"It's still ongoing. Four trails of lava are flowing to the same place. However, the lava has not filled up the valley," said Triyani, an official from the state-run centre. She said the conditions still did not compel authorities to raise the alert level to its highest notch. That would require the immediate evacuation of people living under the volcano. While not mandating evacuation, authorities in Indonesia have been urging people to leave voluntarily.

Most of those who have relocated are women, children and the elderly. Some return to their homes near the volcano during the day to feed livestock, local officials say. Some villagers living on the slopes or nearby, fearing they would lose property and livestock if they go, plan to stay until nature sends signals or the government forces them to leave.

Residents say signals would include lightning around the mountain's peak or animals moving down its slopes. Some local people consider Mount Merapi sacred, and every year a priest climbs to the top to make an offering.


Link to related event Related event:
Eruptive Mount Merapi

Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes') Related blog entries (category 'Volcanoes'):
04 May 2006 · Sultan Hamengku Buwono X: 'Merapi in critical condition'
04 May 2006 · 5,000 evacuated, first lava oozes from Mount Merapi
03 May 2006 · Residents ask to be evacuated as Merapi rumbles
03 May 2006 · River of lava ready to hit villages near Merapi
02 May 2006 · Volcano grows 10 metres in three days


Posted in Volcanoes @ 05 May 2006 10:50 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





Albert
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Merapi's activity climbs in wake of quake

Slamet Susanto, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

A volcanologist warned Monday that Mt. Merapi's activity level had tripled in the wake of Saturday's catastrophic earthquake in Yogyakarta and Central Java.

A. Ratdomopurbo said an eruption was still possible following the quake -- measuring 5.9 on the Richter scale according to the Meteorology and Geophysics Agency -- after the volcano expelled more hot clouds of ash and gas which reached farther distances.

"The quake in Bantul clearly affected Merapi's activities. Since the quake, the volcano has discharged hot clouds three times more than usual," the chief of the Yogyakarta-based Volcanological Research and Technology Development Center told The Jakarta Post.

The volcano, which has been rumbling and spewing smoke and lava for weeks, only expelled 45 hot clouds Friday, but the number rose to 54 on Saturday and then jumped to 159 on Sunday.

"The increase might have happened because the lava dome was shaken, opening up a new way for the hot clouds (to be released)," Ratdomopurbo said.

International volcanology experts were divided about whether the earthquake and the volcano's heightened activity were related.

Chew Soon Hoe, an associate professor of engineering geology at the National University of Singapore, said Merapi's renewed activity and the earthquake are related. Both are in the same subduction zone -- the area where one tectonic plate slides under another plate -- along a boundary between the Euro-Asia plate and the India-Australia plate, he told AP.

"This ocean plate ... is the cause of the recent earthquake and volcanic activity in Indonesia," Chew said. "Because it is very near, the energy released by the quake will accelerate or perturb the activity of the volcano."

David Booth, a seismologist with the British Geological Survey, disagreed, saying the quake would not necessarily cause the volcano to erupt. He said the plates that shifted to cause the earthquake did not necessarily open cracks in the surface that would be needed to cause a volcanic eruption.

"Volcanoes are all about creating pathways for the magma to move up to the surface," Booth said in a telephone interview. "It's like a lemonade bottle having been shaken. There is enormous pressure there. But if there isn't a pathway to the surface, then the pressure will stay contained."

Ratdomopurbo said the clouds also were heading in a new direction, from the usual route toward Magelang city in Central Java to Gendol riverbank in Cangkringan, Sleman regency.

"The new direction of the hot clouds is the latest development in Merapi's activity," he said.

The clouds also reached a farther distance of four kilometers down the slope from recent days. It was similar to the distance of the first hot cloud recorded on May 15.

The increased activity, he added, also was marked by a higher number of tremors, from 29 recorded a day before the quake to 237 on Sunday. On Monday, in the period from midnight to 6 a.m., over 85 tremors had been recorded at the mountain.

Ratdomopurbo was unsure of the impact of Saturday's quake on the volcano's two lava cauldrons -- one located at 1.5 kilometers deep and the other 6 kilometers deep.

"We can't detect it because they are located deep under the surface. What we can observe is the increase in activity of its hot clouds," Ratdomopurbo said.

He predicted it would expel bigger hot clouds, with the greatest danger posed by an eruption due to high temperatures and toxic gases. The clouds -- which can reach temperatures of 1,000 degree Celsius at the crater and 400 degrees Celsius by the time they reach communities on the volcano's slopes -- killed 50 people during a 1994 eruption.

Sukamto, a resident of Senolewah village located some 6.5 kilometers from the crater, said hot clouds were more frequently seen and larger than usual as they headed south in the direction of the town of Sleman.

"All this time, the hot clouds never headed south. Now, they are bigger and darker," he said.



Jeroen
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Albert, can you please not do only newsdumps? It will be in the news section on the website as well, and now there isn't anything to talk about. Emoticon: Smile



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