Mt Merapi's Volcanic Activity Still High



Wednesday, November 17, 2010

The intensity of Mount Merapi's volcanic activity has remained high in the past week, a senior geologist said here on Tuesday. "The volcanic activity of Mount Merapi from November 11 to 16 has even been increasing," the head of the Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Agency (PVMBG), Surono, said after a teleconfernce with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono from the National Disaster Management Agency command post here.

According to the results of Mount Merapi`s seismic activity monitoring, a volcanic activity was recorded to happen once on November 1 but it increased to six on November 12, 26 on November 13, 31 on November 15, 34 on November 15 and 20 times until 12.00 hours on November 16. From November 3 to now, Surono said, the volcano was still defined as still continuously erupting but people in the district of Sleman on the slope of the mountain and in Yogykarta,a city at the feet of the mountain could never be able to see the eruption.

"Eruptions and volcanic ash flows have often been seen going westward and felt in Magelang and its surrounding areas," he said. Surono said right now a quite big crater resulting from an eruption had been created at the peak of the mountain in addition to three smaller craters. "Due to the craters three gleams of fire can be seen at the peak of the mountain at night," he said.

Surono said the presence of the craters was positive because through them the volcano could release the energy it kept little by little. He said until now the mountain`s status still remained under the highest danger level although the danger zone had been shrinked in several districts around the mountain. Surono said the shrinking of the radius of the danger zone however should not be understood that people had been ordered to stay close to the new radius.

"We did not recommend the people to get close to the new 10-kilometer radius for Boyolali and Klaten districts and 15 kilometer for Magelang but the recommendation for the new radius was given based upon the longest distance of hot cloud flows which have so far been posing the main threat," he said. Based upon monitoring in the field, the flow of hot clouds in the rivers in Sleman such as Kali Boyong reached as far as 10 kilometers, Kali Gendor 14 kilometers, Kali Apu in Boyolali four kilometers and Kali Woro in Klaten seven kilometers.

Therefore, he said, the squeezing of the danger zone should not be automatically interpreted as lowering the danger level of the mountain. Surono said lowering the danger level was not an easy task for fear of making people off guard and forget about the danger of the mountain. "President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s message was prevent more victims and therefore people should remain patient for the sake of assuring a happy ending," he said. He said PVMBG has received assistance from foreign geologists such as from Japan, the US and has also received a request from China for helping monitor the mountain`s activity.

Surono said in Japan monitoring is done through a tunnel made within the mountain to know the exact activity of a mountain. "The suggestion may be raised for consideration for future monitoring," he said.