Mt. Semeru Volcano Spews Hot Clouds, Indication of Another Explosion?

Indonesians fear another eruption from Mt. Semeru volcano. The country recently experienced a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.
Indonesians fear another eruption from Mt. Semeru volcano. The country recently experienced a 7.4 magnitude earthquake.

Almost two weeks after its eruption, Mt. Semeru volcano showed signs of activity. It spewed hot clouds on Dec. 16 that raced 4.5 km down the volcano’s eastern slope.

Mt. Semeru Volcano, “The Great Mountain”

The Mt. Semeru volcano is the highest mountain on Java Island. Its name came from the Hindu word, “Meru,” which means central world mountain. This Indonesian volcano also comes by the name of “Mahameru” meaning the “The Great Mountain” in Sanskrit.

This stratovolcano lies in East Java, Indonesia, and embodies the historic Jonggring-Seloko vent at the Mahameru summit. Also called a composite volcano, Mt. Semeru is a cone-shaped volcano, which consists of hardened ash, vertically-dipping lava layers, and other materials which erupted from the main volcanic vent.

Indonesians Fear Another Explosion

Currently, Mt. Semeru volcano already recorded three explosions this year. The first explosion was on January 16, the second was on December 4, and the third one was on December 6. Indonesians fear that anytime, there will be another explosion.

The conical volcano dislodged pyroclastic flow on Thursday. It’s a thick, swift-moving surge of solidified lava pieces, hot gases, and volcanic ash. This volcanic cascade is exceedingly hot and will burn anything in its path.

Fortunately, there were no casualties. After its eruption on December 4, over 10,000 people found refuge in temporary shelters.

Since December 2020, Mt. Semeru erupted several times because it sits on the Pacific Ring of Fire. At the same time, this is a zone of frequent seismic earthquakes and consists of around 128 active volcanoes.

7.4-Magnitude Earthquake Shook Indonesia’s Eastern Region

Indonesians have not recovered from Mt. Semeru’s eruption and yet a 7.4-magnitude earthquake shook the Asian country already. It damaged 350 homes and relocated almost 800 people. The earthquake occurred at around 10:30 AM Indonesian time in the Flores Sea.

Likewise, the quake triggered a tsunami warning but was also lifted after two hours. It’s because there was no significant increase in sea levels. The worst hit by the earthquake was the district of the Selayar islands.

Furthermore, the meteorological agency recorded at least 15 aftershocks. The biggest registered with a 5.6 magnitude.

Mt. Semeru Volcano’s Dangerous Increased Activity

According to Indonesia’s geological agency, Mt. Semeru’s increased activities could initiate an avalanche of lava and searing gas, in particular. Heavy monsoon rains preceded the December 4 eruption. It partially broke down a lava dome on the 3,676-meter stratovolcano.

A new eruption can affect new areas because nearly 8 million cubic meters of sand from the volcanic now clogs the Besuk Kobokan River. The river serves as the course of the lava flow.

“As a result, if there is another eruption, it would block the flow path and create new lava flows spreading to the surrounding area,” said Arifin Tasrif, minister for energy and mineral resources.

The eruption destroyed over 5,200 homes and buildings. Search and rescue operations stopped on Friday with 36 people still missing. Over 100 people sustained injuries, of which 22 suffered severe burns.

In the meantime, the government raised the level to the second-highest. It advised villagers living on the volcano’s fertile slopes to stay away at 13 kilometers from the crater’s mouth. Both tourism and mining activities are put to a halt along the Besuk Kobokan watershed.