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Report on Karangetang (Indonesia) — February 2011


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 36, no. 1 (February 2011)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Karangetang (Indonesia) Eruption in August 2010 isolated 20,000 residents and caused four deaths

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Karangetang (Indonesia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 36:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201102-267020



2.781°N, 125.407°E; summit elev. 1797 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A sudden eruption at Karangetang on 6 August 2010 occurred without warning and caused considerable damage. This report covers the interval from 6 August 2010 to mid-March 2011. Previously, the Indonesian Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM) had reported that, after explosions and lava flows during May and June 2009 and a pyroclastic flow and lahar in November 2009, seismicity had declined through early February 2010 (BGVN 35:01). On 12 February 2010, CVGHM had lowered the Alert Level to 2 (on a scale of 1-4).

According to news articles, an explosion on 6 August 2010 ejected hot clouds of gas and sent pyroclastic flows down the W flank. At least one house was buried and several other buildings, including a church, were damaged. A damaged bridge isolated about six villages and their ~20,000 residents, and communication links were lost. According to news reports (CNN and Associated Press), four people were confirmed dead and five were injured, and about 65 were evacuated. The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) reported that an ash plume rose to an altitude of 9.1 km and drifted W on that same day.

The news reports cited CVGHM official Priyadi Kardono as noting that the volcano erupted just after midnight when water from heavy rains had penetrated the volcano's hot lava dome, causing the explosion. According to these reports, Kardono said volcanologists did not issue a warning about the eruption because there were no indications of increased volcanic activity. Kardono also noted that the explosion was not large, and the flow of volcanic debris had since decreased.

CVGHM reported that during 1-21 September 2010, lava traveled 75-500 m down Karangetang's flanks and avalanches traveled as far as 2 km down multiple drainages, to the S, E, and W. Incandescent material was ejected up to 500 m above the crater. Ashfall was reported in areas to the NW.

On 21 and 22 September incandescent material traveled down multiple drainages. Strombolian activity was observed on 22 September; material ejected 50 m high fell back down around the crater. That same day, the Alert level was raised to 3.

During November and early December 2010, CVGHM noted a drastic decrease in the occurrence of pyroclastic flows on Karangetang's flanks. Seismicity also decreased. The only reports were of white plumes that rose up to 300 m above the craters. The Alert Level was thus lowered to 2 on 13 December 2010.

According to CVGHM, the Alert Level was again raised from 2 to 3 on 11 March 2011 due to increased seismicity. According to news reports, lava flows were visible and blocks originating from the lava dome traveled as far as 2 km down the flanks, along with hot gas clouds. A Reuters News photo published in Okezone News showed a moderate Strombolian eruption venting from the summit on 11 March, with an apron of incandescent spatter dotting the upper slopes, and a swath of red spatter and bombs bouncing down one flank. Darwin VAAC reported that on that same day, an ash plume rose to an altitude of 2.4 km and drifted 55 km SW; on 13 March, another ash plume rose to an altitude of 3.7 km and drifted 37 km.

During 12-16 March, CVGHM stated that bluish gas plumes rose 50-150 m above the main crater. On 17 March lava flows traveled as far as 2 km from the main crater, accompanied by roaring and booming noises.

On 18 and 20 March lava flows traveled 1.5-1.8 km and collapses from the lava flow fronts generated avalanches that moved another 500 m. Avalanches from the crater traveled 3.8 km down the flanks. Multiple pyroclastic flows about 1.5-2.3 km long destroyed a bridge, damaged a house, and trapped 31 people (later rescued) between the flow paths. Later that day, pyroclastic flows traveled 4 km, reaching the shore. The Alert Level was raised to 4. According to news articles, 600-1,200 people were evacuated from villages on the W flank.

During the week after 20 March, seismicity and deformation declined. The number of new lava flows also declined.

MODVOLC Thermal Alerts. Thermal alerts derived from the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology Thermal Alerts System (MODVOLC) were reported through 19 February 2010 in BGVN 35:01. A significant number of alerts were measured on 19 March 2010 (14 pixels at 0215 UCT on Terra) and 23 March (1 pixel on Aqua), followed by ~5 months without measured alerts. Alerts reappeared during 16 August-19 October 2010. Alerts were absent between 20 October 2010 and 10 March 2011, followed by renewed alerts during 11-12 March 2011.

Geological Summary. Karangetang (Api Siau) volcano lies at the northern end of the island of Siau, about 125 km NNE of the NE-most point of Sulawesi. The stratovolcano contains five summit craters along a N-S line. It is one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, with more than 40 eruptions recorded since 1675 and many additional small eruptions that were not documented (Neumann van Padang, 1951). Twentieth-century eruptions have included frequent explosive activity sometimes accompanied by pyroclastic flows and lahars. Lava dome growth has occurred in the summit craters; collapse of lava flow fronts have produced pyroclastic flows.

Information Contacts: Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://vsi.esdm.go.id/); Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), Bureau of Meteorology, Northern Territory Regional Office, PO Box 40050, Casuarina, NT 0811, Australia (URL: http://www.bom.gov.au/info/vaac/); Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology (HIGP) MODVOLC Thermal Alerts System, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST), Univ. of Hawai'i, 2525 Correa Road, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA (URL: http://modis.higp.hawaii.edu/); Okezone News (URL: http://news.okezone.com/read/2011/03/12/340/434280/gunung-muntahkan-lava-pijar); Associated Press (URL: http://www.ap.org/); Reuters (URL: http://www.reuters.com/); CNN (URL: http://www.cnn.com/); Straits Times (URL: http://www.straitstimes.com/); Novinite (URL: http://www.novinite.com/).