Thursday, 9 June 2011

Erupsi Merapi

Pictures: Indonesia's 
Mount Merapi Volcano Erupts

Mount Merapi Erupts
Photograph by Dwi Obli, Reuters

Smoke rises Monday from Indonesia's Mount Merapi, one of the world's most volatile and dangerous volcanoes. Thousands of people living on the volcano's fertile slopes began evacuating as Merapi started erupting Tuesday, sending hot ash and rocks high in the air. (See an Indonesia map.)
Scientists had been warning for days that pressure building in the rumbling volcano has the potential to set off an especially violent eruption. (See related pictures of the ten most dangerous U.S. volcanoes.)
"The energy is building up. ... We hope it will release slowly," Indonesian-government volcanologist Surono told reporters, according to the Associated Press. "Otherwise we're looking at a potentially huge eruption, bigger than anything we've seen in years."

Meanwhile, officials in western Indonesia are racing to deal with the aftermath of a deadly tsunami that struck the remote Mentawai Islands late Monday, killing at least 113 and leaving hundreds more missing. The killer wave, triggered by a magnitude 7.7 earthquake centered offshore of the island of Sumatra, had many recalling the December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which devastated the same region.

While it's unclear whether Monday's earthquake and the Merapi volcano eruption are linked, neither event is uncommon in Indonesia. The archipelago sits along the Pacific Ring of Fire, a series of fault lines that stretches from the Pacific coasts of the Americas through Japan and into Southeast Asia. (See "Deadly Java Quake Highlights "Ring of Fire" Dangers.")

Covered in Merapi's Ash
Photograph by Dwi Oblo, Reuters

Coated with ash from the erupting Mount Merapi volcano, people stand on an Indonesian village street on October 26. (See more pictures of Indonesia's active volcanoes.)

Merapi is considered the most active volcano in Indonesia, according to the Jakarta Post. The peak last erupted in 2006, when showers of hot debris killed two people. A 1994 eruption caused the volcano's dome to collapse, killing 70, and an eruption in 1930 killed more than 1,300.

Grass and Smoke in Indonesia
Photograph by Slamet Riyadi, AP

Indonesian women carry bundles of grass to feed their cattle as the Mount Merapi volcano smokes in the background on October 20.

Despite advance warning of the explosive eruptions that spewed from Merapi on October 26, many villagers chose to stay on the volcano until as late as possible to tend to crops and livestock, according to the New York Times.

Priyadi Kardono, spokesperson for Indonesia's Disaster Management Agency, said that about half of the people in the threatened area had been evacuated by the time the eruptions started, although a baby died of smoke inhalation during the journey down the mountain.

Mount Merapi's Smoking Top
Photograph by Mohammad Ali, EPA/Corbis

A closeup of the peak of Mount Merapi shows smoke billowing from the volcano on October 26. Volcanologists monitoring the peak recorded a doubling of seismic activity and increased deformation of the lava dome between the Thursday and Sunday before the Tuesday eruption, the Jakarta Post reported.

On Monday Indonesian officials put the region on the highest alert possible and ordered evacuations—hours before the volcano erupted.

(Related: "Italy's Etna First Active Volcano to Get 'CT Scan.'")

Victim of the Volcano
Photograph by Dwi Oblo, Reuters

Covered in ash from Mount Merapi, a man is wheeled into a hospital in Sleman, Indonesia, on October 26.
As of Tuesday afternoon, eastern time, the latest Mount Merapi eruptions were known to have killed 18 people, the Associated Press reported. Fast moving clouds of hot ash have been the biggest threats—and there could be much more to come.

Tuesday's eruptions could be a warning of a huge blast—or a sign that the volcano will slowly let off steam. "It's too early to know for sure," government volcanologist Gede Swantika told the AP. "But if it continues like this for a while, we are looking at a slow, long eruption."

Past Pyrotechnics on Merapi
Photograph by Purwowiyoto, AP

Living up to its name, Mount Merapi—"fire mountain" in Javanese—erupts in June 2006.
On Merapi's home island of Java, more than 30 volcanoes loom over 120 million people, causing more than 140,000 deaths in the last 500 years, according to National Geographic magazine. Not too far away, on Sumbawa—another of Indonesia's 17,500 islands—Mount Tambora alone killed 92,000 in 1815.

Volcanic Villages on Merapi
Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic

Carving its slopes with steppes, farmers have set up croplands and villages as far up Mount Merapi's ridges as possible (file photo). The attraction of Merapi's rich volcanic soils is apparently greater than the threat of burning lava, toxic gas, or smothering mud from one of the word's most active and dangerous volcanoes.

Worldwide, volcanic soils cover only one percent of Earth's land but feed about 10 percent of all people, according to National Geographic magazine. (Read more about Mount Merapi and other Indonesian volcanoes.)

Protection Money for Merapi?
Photograph by John Stanmeyer, National Geographic

Festooned with fake money and surrounded by offerings of corn and cabbage, a miniature "volcano" gets a kingly conveyance to a river near Mount Merapi (file photo). Traditionally, the entire array is tossed into the water to appease the active Indonesian volcano.

To mystically minded Javans, it pays to stay on Merapi's good side. As a major source of the island's fertile, ash-infused soil, the mountain occasionally threatens death but almost constantly brings life.

Original Pic : National

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