It seems that the volcanoes of Indonesia are restless this August – and this weekend was no exception. Two volcanoes made the news as unrest reached levels high enough for Indonesia officials to call for evacuations. The first was at Papandayan, a composite volcano on Java that last erupted in 2002. Gas emissions from the main “Golden Craters” at the volcano along with the threat of a phreatic (steam-driven) eruption have prompted a 2-km exclusion zone around the main crater – however, they have lowered the alert level from 3 to 2 since the initial warning during the weekend. Papandayan is a popular tourist destination, so enforcing the exclusion might be difficult. The volcano has only had 4 known historic eruptions, with the eruption in 1772 ranking as a VEI 3 that produced almost 3,000 fatalities.
The volcano getting attention is Soputan on Sulawesi. We’ve been watching the volcano since early July of this year as it sprang back to life. It appears that new lava is being erupted from the summit crater – and small explosions reaching 1 km in height have been occurring as well. The lava flow has made significant progress down the volcano (see top left), producing some stunning images at night. PVMBG has established a 6-km exclusion zone around Soputan due to this renewed activity.
The plume from Soputan in Indonesia as seen on August 14, 2011. Top left image shows the lava flow from the volcano – click here to see the original image.