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Posts Tagged ‘ring of fire’

Indonesia volcano shoots new blast; 21 more rumble!

Posted by Admin on November 2, 2010

Reuters – Mount Merapi volcano spews smoke as seen from Deles village in Klaten, near the ancient city of Yogyakarta, …

MOUNT MERAPI, Indonesia – Deafening explosions of hot gas rattled evacuees miles (kilometers) from an Indonesian volcano Monday, the latest eruption in a deadly week. The country reported increased rumblings at 21 other active mountains, raising questions about what’s causing the uptick along some of the world’s most prolific fault lines.

No new casualties were reported in Mount Merapi’s new blast, which came as Indonesia also struggles to respond to an earthquake-generated tsunami that devastated a remote chain of islands. The two disasters unfolding on opposite ends of country have killed nearly 500 people and strained the government’s emergency response network. In both events, the military has been called in to help.

Merapi has killed 38 people since it started erupting a week ago. Monitoring officials have also raised alert levels at some of the 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia, with two under watch for possible eruption within two weeks and 19 showing increased activity — more than double the usual number on the watch list, an official said.

Indonesia, a vast archipelago of 235 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanos because it sits along the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped string of faults that lines the western and eastern Pacific. Scientists could not say for certain what was causing the increased volcanic activity, though two theorized the earth’s tectonic plates could be realigning and one noted growing evidence that volcanos can affect one other.

About 69,000 villagers have been evacuated from the area around Merapi’s once-fertile slopes — now blanketed by gray ash — in central Java, 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Jakarta, the capital.

Booming explosions sounded during Monday’s eruption, which shot massive clouds from the glowing cauldron and sent ash cascading nearly four miles (six kilometers) down the southeastern slopes, said Subrandrio, an official in charge of monitoring Merapi’s activity.

Even in the crowded government camps, miles (kilometers) away from the mountain, the sound of the explosions sent evacuees scurrying for shelter.

More than 800 miles (1,300 kilometers) to the west, meanwhile, a C-130 transport plane, six helicopters and four motorized boats were ferrying aid to the most distant corners of the Mentawai Islands, where last week’s tsunami destroyed hundreds of homes, schools, churches and mosques. The tsunami death toll stood at 431 Monday, the National Disaster Management Agency said on its website.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said relief efforts must be sped up, expressing dismay that it took days for aid to reach the isolated islands, though he acknowledged that violent storms were largely to blame.

Last week’s killer wave was triggered a 7.7-magnitude earthquake along the same fault that caused the 2004 temblor and tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries. The fault line, which runs the length of the west coast of Sumatra island, is the meeting point of the two of the Earth’s dozen major plates, which have been pushing against and under each other for millions of years, causing huge stresses to build up.

Both earthquakes and volcanos can result from the release of these stresses. As plates slide against or under each other, molten rock can break the surface via a volcano or the energy can be released in an earthquake.

The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanos to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, said Syamsul Rizal, a state volcanologist, said Monday. Many of those are already rumbling and belching out heavy black ash.

Indonesia has several volcanos smoldering at any given time, but another government volcanologist, Gede Swantika, said that normally only five to 10 would be at the third-highest alert level — which indicates an increase in seismic activity and visible changes in the crater. It is rare for any to be at second-highest — which signifies an eruption is possible within two weeks.

He said monitors noticed more volcanos were exhibiting seismic activity starting Sept. 2.

Geophysicist Pall Einarsson of the University of Iceland said that such an increase could be an indication that some of the volcanos — if any are very close — could be affecting one another. He said this idea is a new one for volcanologists, but they are increasingly seeing evidence of interplay between neighboring mountains.

Geologist Brent McInnes said as he hadn’t seen the raw data but would find such a rash of volcanic activity significant.

“If it’s true that there are over 20 volcanos demonstrating increased levels of seismic activity, then that is something we should pay attention to,” said McInnes, a professor at Australia’s Curtin University who has done extensive volcanic research in Indonesia.

He said such an increase could indicate “a major plate restructuring” — a major shift in the plates’ position, rather than simply the usual jostling. “That would be significant.”

But seismologists also caution that while eruption patterns can be studied, neither earthquakes nor volcanos can be predicted with any precision.

“My theory is that it is just a normal, random fluctuation of volcanic activity,” said John Ebel, professor of geophysics at Boston University.

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Associated Press writers Thomas Wagner in London, Achmad Ibrahim in the Mentawai islands and Kay Johnson, Niniek Karmini, Irwan Firdaus, Ali Kotarumalos and Kristen Gelineau in Jakarta contributed to this report.

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21 Volcanoes Across Country Ready to Erupt

Posted by Admin on October 4, 2010

http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/indonesia/21-volcanoes-across-country-ready-to-erupt/399206

Candra Malik | October 01, 2010

In this file photo, Mount Sinabung, one of the 21 volcanoes being monitored for signs of danger.  (JG Photo)

In this file photo, Mount Sinabung, one of the 21 volcanoes being monitored for signs of danger. (JG Photo)

Bandung. Twenty-one volcanoes across Indonesia could erupt at any time, leading to natural disasters, officials have warned. 

An official from the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG) told the Jakarta Globe on Friday that the alert for 18 volcanoes had been raised from Level 1, or “normal,” to Level 2, or “beware.” 

Hendrasto, the head of the PVMBG’s Volcano Observation Unit, said that three other volcanoes were on Level 3, or “standby,” just one step below full alert, or Level 4. 

One of those three is Mount Sinabung in Karo district, North Sumatra, which began erupting on Aug. 29 after lying dormant for 400 years. Its last major eruption, on Sept. 7, spewed volcanic ash more than 5,000 meters into the atmosphere. 

“We downgraded Sinabung from Level 4 to Level 3 on September 23,” Hendrasto said. “However, we still urge the public to remain alert for any danger.” 

Most of the villagers who were evacuated after the initial eruption have since been allowed to return to their homes. 

The two other volcanoes on Level 3 alert are Mount Karangetang on Siau Island in North Sulawesi and Mount Ibu on Halmahera Island in North Maluku. Karangetang is considered the most active volcano in the archipelago, with 41 major eruptions since 1675. Its last eruption, on Aug. 6, is believed to have killed four people. 

Ibu, meanwhile, has experienced ongoing eruptions since April 5, 2008, feeding a lava flow down one side of the mountain. 

The 18 volcanoes on Level 2 alert include Papandayan in West Java, Slamet in Yogyakarta, Merapi in Central Java and Semeru and Bromo in East Java. 

“Semeru and Slamet are the highest peaks in their provinces, while Bromo is a popular tourist destination,” Hendrasto said. “Because of their popularity, we are urging the regional administrations to issue a warning advising the public of the raised alert status.” 

Other volcanoes on Level 2 alert include Talang in West Sumatra, Kaba in Bengkulu, Kerinci in Jambi and Anak Krakatau in the Sunda Strait, between Sumatra and Java. 

Anak Krakatau is the remnant of Krakatau, whose violent eruption in August 1883 killed an estimated 40,000 people and was heard up to 5,000 kilometers away. 

The eruption caused tsunamis as far away as South Africa, and resulted in global temperatures dropping by more than 1 degree Celsius. 

Kerinci, at 3,800 meters, is the highest peak in Sumatra and the highest volcano in the country. It is a popular destination with hikers and wildlife enthusiasts because it lies inside the Bukit Barisan National Park.

In the east of the country, the Level 2 volcanoes are Batur in Bali, Sangeang Api and Rinjani in West Nusa Tenggara, Egon and Rokatenda in East Nusa Tenggara, Soputan and Lokon in North Sulawesi, and Dukono and Gamalama in North Maluku. 

“Our officials will keep monitoring these volcanoes around the clock and provide real-time updates,” Hendrasto said. 

All 21 volcanoes highlighted have erupted sometime this year, and are among 59 active volcanoes across the country.

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Emergency declared after 7.1 quake hits New Zealand

Posted by Admin on September 4, 2010

Global earthquake epicenters, 1963 1998

Image via Wikipedia

WELLINGTON | Sat Sep 4, 2010 1:36pm IST

WELLINGTON (Reuters) – Authorities declared an overnight curfew for Saturday after a major earthquake hit New Zealand‘s second biggest city, Christchurch, bringing down power lines and bridges and wrecking roads and building facades.

“The damages are incredibly frightening. The only thing you can say it’s a miracle that no one lost their life,” Prime Minister John Key told Television NZ after the quake struck with a magnitude of 7.1 from a depth of 10 kms (6 miles) at around 4.35 a.m. local time (1635 GMT Friday).

He said early estimates for the cost of repairs were around NZ$2 billion ($1.4 billion).

A curfew was slapped on the central business district of Christchurch between 1900 and 0700 (0700 GMT and 1900 GMT). Earlier, a formal civil defence state of emergency was imposed in the city of around 350,000 to coordinate recovery operations.

The last time authorities declared a local emergency was in late December 2007 when a 6.8 magnitude earthquake hit Gisborne on New Zealand’s North Island. The earthquake caused damage to some buildings but also caused no casualties.

Christchurch city and the neighbouring small towns bore the full force of the quake, which did considerable damage to infrastructure.

“The damage is immense, it’s something that has affected every family, every household…the hit on our infrastructure, the pipes that deliver the water, the waste water, the bridges, the power supplies…has been very significant,” Christchurch mayor Bob Parker told reporters.

The city’s hospital said two men had been admitted with serious injuries, one hit by a falling chimney and the other cut by glass.

Police said there were minor instances of looting, which had been quickly contained. In the suburbs many houses had broken windows, toppled chimneys, cracked walls and items thrown off shelves, with some streets and footpaths subsiding.

In late afternoon, power has been restored to 90 percent of the Christchurch urban area and 80 percent of the rural network.

Authorities were preparing to bring in water in large tankers because pumping stations were out of action and pipes broken.

RURAL EPICENTRE

The small farming community of Darfield, around 20 kms (12 miles) west of Christchurch, was near the quake’s epicentre.

The principal of the primary school there said the quake, which threw him out of bed, was terrifying.

“Our china cabinet has crashed, pictures are off the wall, anything high up has come down and the cat has gone. He is probably still heading south,” Markham McCullen told the NZ Press Association.

GNS Science, the New Zealand government seismological agency, revised the quake’s magnitude to 7.1 from an original 7.4. The U.S. Geological Survey initially reported it at 7.4 but later revised its figure to 7.0.

Christchurch airport, which was shut earlier, has been reopened and is operational, while the railway network and bridges throughout the region were also being checked for damage.

Canterbury University, which has about 22,000 students, said there has been no material structural damage on its campus, but the university will be closed until Sept 13 for health and safety assessment.

The quake was felt as a long rolling motion lasting up to 40 seconds. The area was continuing to feel aftershocks as strong as magnitude 5.3.

The quake was among the 10 strongest recorded in New Zealand, which sits between the Pacific and Indo-Australian tectonic plates, and records around 14,000 earthquakes a year, of which around 20 top magnitude 5.0.

The last fatal quake was in 1968 when an earthquake measuring 7.1 killed three people on the South Island‘s West Coast.

($1 = NZ$1.39)

(Additional reporting by Mantik Kusjanto; Editing by David Fox)

(For more news, visit Reuters India)

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Indonesian volcano erupts again, spewing hot ash

Posted by Admin on August 30, 2010

TANAH KARO, Indonesia – An Indonesian volcano dormant for four centuries erupted for the second straight day Monday, shooting clouds of hot ash more than a mile into the air and forcing 30,000 people to flee.

Mount Sinabung spews volcanic materials into ...

Mount Sinabung spews

Some domestic airplanes had to be diverted because of poor visibility.

Many villagers living along the slopes of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra province wore masks as they packed their belongings and headed to emergency shelters, mosques and churches, said Andi Arief, a presidential adviser on disasters.

Their abandoned homes and crops were blanketed in gray soot and the air was thick with the smell of sulfur.

While two people died — a 64-year-old woman from respiratory problems and a 52-year-old man from a heart attack — it was too early to say if the volcano was to blame, said Priyadi Kardono of the National Disaster Management Agency.

Sinabung last erupted in 1600, so observers don’t know its eruption pattern and admitted over the weekend they had not monitored it closely before it started rumbling days ago in the lead-up to Sunday’s first, less-powerful blast.

Hours later, the alert was raised to the highest level.

Like other volcanoes along the Sumatra fault line — the meeting point of the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates that have pushed against each other for millions of years — it has the potential to be very destructive.

Stiff magna forming inside the conical tip can act as a plug, allowing pressure to build up until it reaches a bursting point.

“A volcano with a long repose period could deliver a more powerful eruption,” as was the case with Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, which killed about 800 people, said Alain Bernard, a professor at the University of Brussels.

Sinabung could either go back to sleep or produce a series of blasts with increasing intensity, he said. “A Pinatubo-size eruption is a rare event and unlikely to appear during the following days. It takes normally weeks or months,” said Bernard.

Though strong wind shifts or a powerful follow-up blast could affect air traffic in nearby Singapore and Malaysia, Transportation Ministry spokesman Bambang Ervan said so far only four domestic flights heading to the provincial capital of Medan were diverted.

The number of people evacuated reached 30,000 by Monday afternoon, said Erni Damanik with the Tanah Karo district information center. Many people living along the base of the 8,000-foot (2,400-meter) mountain have also moved to outlying villages.

Food, emergency tents, and medicine were on the way to the scene, officials said, including more than 17,000 respiratory masks.

Indonesia is spread across 17,500 islands and is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes because of its location within the so-called “Ring of Fire” — a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

It is also home to some of the largest eruptions in recorded history.

The 1815 explosion of Mount Tambora buried the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island under searing ash, gas and rock, killing an estimated 88,000 people.

The 1883 eruption of Krakatoa could be heard 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) away and blackened skies region-wide for months. At least 36,000 people were killed in the blast and the tsunami that followed.

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Associated Press writers Irwan Firdaus and Ali Kotarumalos contributed to this report from Jakarta.

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