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Wednesday (11/10/10) Update: A respite for Indonesia and upswing for the Philippines

Two volcanoes are headed into different directions this week – activity at Merapi appears to be down while explosions are continuing at Bulusan. This is not to say that the volcanoes respective trajectories are constant. They could easily change their behavior, and sometimes quite quickly, so don’t take any short-term trends as reflecting anything more than what the volcano is doing right now.

Before I get to updates on the two volcanoes, I wanted to highlight a post over at Magma Cum Laude that I wish I wrote – but am glad that somebody did. Jessica Ball tackled a pile of media misconceptions about volcanism and it is an article well worth checking out, especially if you are a member of the media yourself. Heck, this should be required reading for anyone who covers a volcanic eruption in the media.

On to the updates!

Bulusan: Evacuations have begun around the Philippine volcano, where families living on the slopes of the volcano have starting leaving. So far only 116 people have left, but ash has fallen on many of the towns neighboring the volcano. PHIVOLCS says that all of the recent explosions are steam-driven events, which is normal for Bulusan during periods of unrest, while sulfur dioxide emissions remain relatively low right now, at ~168 tonnes/day. However, rainfall could trigger more lahars near the volcano. Many residents near the volcano are hoping for a “safe eruption” rather than anything like what occurred near Merapi.

Farmers work the fields with Bulusan in the background.

Merapi:USGS volcanologists from the Cascades Volcano Observatory are headed to Indonesia to help with monitoring the volcano – it never hurts to have more people assisting with all the data coming in. Most reports today from Merapi suggest that the volcano continues to be more settled than it was last week, although the ash is still causing flight delays/disruptions. Surono from the Centre of Vulcanology and Geology Disaster Mitigation warns that the activity is still high and they will maintain the 20-km danger zone for the time being as lahars are still reaching upwards of 16 km (Indonesian) from the volcano. People who have evacuated are being asked to stay in the shelters. The death toll continues to rise as rescue teams find more victims, now totalling 191. CNN has some video coverage of the devastation near Merapi and the current activity – all shot by James Reynolds – and if you want to see even more amazing images of the eruption and the aftermath, check out this image collection. You can also get an idea about the sulfur dioxide plume from Merapi by checking out this new image from the NASA Earth Observatory – the amount of sulfur dioxide combined with the location of Merapi near the equator could effect global climate, but at this point, it is impossible to know.

{Special thanks, again, to all Eruptions readers who helped provide links for this post.}

Top left: The ash-and-steam plume from Merapi on November 10, 2010. Image by James Reynolds. Click here to see a larger version.


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