More Explosions at Sinabung
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Activity at Sinabung continues to be a cause for concern as the volcano experienced another set of explosions overnight. Surono, head of the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation described the current activity: "Constant tremors were felt since yesterday and, between 4:38 and 4:51 a.m. this morning, the volcano erupted, shooting thick, hot ash 3,000 meters (1.9 miles) to the sky." So, it seems that the volcano is continuing to have these relatively small, ash-rich explosions that might be the continuation of this "conduit-clearing". Many people living near the volcano that did not evacuate or returned since the first explosion had to leave due to these new explosions. Eruptions reader Typhoon Fury sent in some video he shot on the scene of the preparations/precautions that the locals are taking for the ash - and remember, ash in a danger in many different ways beyond inhalation. The weather is poor right now around the volcano, so seeing the eruption is difficult but some reports have ash reaching as high as ~3 km / 10,000 feet. In one of those "lost in translation" moments, there was an article warning the local Karo people about "lava floods", which is a little misleading. The report/warning is about volcanic mudflows or lahars generated by the mix of volcanic ash and water - they can be generated by large amounts of rain falling on loose, recently erupted ash, but are a significant hazard. The best thing to do if you are in the path of a lahar is to get to higher ground, and fast, as lahars will tend to stay confined to valley/channel bottoms. At this point, it is still unknown what the end result of this activity might be: a run-up to a larger event or eventual petering out of the activity.
UPDATE: Here is some Indonesian TV news coverage (video) of the recent explosions (thanks to Eruptions reader Jeb).
Top left: Sinabung with a steam plume on September 2, 2010.
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