Report on Galunggung (Indonesia) — March 1982

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 3 (March 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Galunggung (Indonesia) Heavy ashfall; mudflows; eight killed

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Galunggung (Indonesia). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:3. Smithsonian Institution.

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7.25°S, 108.058°E; summit elev. 2168 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A brief explosive eruption began before dawn 5 April, ejecting incandescent tephra and "stones as big as a human head" according to press reports. An image returned at 0700 by the Japanese geostationary weather satellite showed an eruption column about 50 km in diameter. The next available image, at 1410, showed that feeding of the eruption column had stopped and the plume had drifted about 250 km to the N. As much as 25 cm of ash fell on the flanks and ashfalls were reported from as far away as Garut, 35 km to the NW. The activity was accompanied by strong felt seismicity, and felt events continued in midafternoon. Two persons were killed and as many as 31,000 were evacuated, but most of the evacuees returned home within a few hours.

A second explosive eruption occurred during the night of 8-9 April, associated with at least one felt earthquake. Hot mud flowed at 60 km/hour as far as 11 km down the SE flank, buried houses in at least six villages, and destroyed a bridge over the Cikunir River, which emerges from a large breach in the SE side of the crater (figure 1). Officials said that only about half of the 8.6 x 106 m3 of material in the crater had been ejected and feared that the steady rain falling on the area could trigger more mudflows. AFP reported eight persons dead, three missing, and 22 injured. UPI reported that many were burned or suffering from the effects of toxic volcanic gases. Authorities have forbidden entry into several areas where gases were seeping from cracks in the ground. The rice crop, within a month of its harvest, was destroyed.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 1. Sketch map of Galunggung crater and vicinity, showing the Gaunug Jadi lava dome, Walirang ridge, major drainages, and flank towns. A temporary volcano observatory was established in Cikasasah, 7 km SE of the crater. From Katili and Sudradjat, 1984.

Geologic Background. The forested slopes Galunggung in western Java are cut by a large horseshoe-shaped caldera breached to the SE that has served to channel the products of recent eruptions in that direction. The "Ten Thousand Hills of Tasikmalaya" dotting the plain below the volcano are debris-avalanche hummocks from the collapse that formed the breached caldera about 4200 years ago. Although historical eruptions, restricted to the central vent near the caldera headwall, have been infrequent, they have caused much devastation. The first historical eruption in 1822 produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that killed over 4000 people. More recently, a strong explosive eruption during 1982-1983 caused severe economic disruption to populated areas near the volcano.

Information Contacts: D. Haller, NOAA; C. Dan Miller, USGS; Jakarta DRS; AFP; UPI.