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Report on Semeru (Indonesia) — March 1981


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 6, no. 3 (March 1981)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Semeru (Indonesia) Nuées ardentes and lava avalanches; one killed, 272 evacuated

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1981. Report on Semeru (Indonesia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 6:3. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198103-263300



8.108°S, 112.922°E; summit elev. 3657 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Activity increased 28 March. The first nuée ardente moved about 4 km from the summit down the Kembar and Kobokan Rivers (on the S flank) at 1755. During the following days, increasingly intense nuées ardentes reached a distance of more than 7 km from the summit. Four nuées ardentes and 19 lava avalanches (presumably accompanied by nuées ardentes of eruptive origin) were reported on 29 March and four more nuées ardentes and 36 lava avalanches were observed the next day. As of 31 March, tremors were being continuously recorded by the VSI seismograph about 10 km from the summit.

One person was killed by a nuée ardente and 272 others were evacuated. The ongoing rainy season may cause lahars and associated flooding.

Geological Summary. Semeru, the highest volcano on Java, and one of its most active, lies at the southern end of a volcanic massif extending north to the Tengger caldera. The steep-sided volcano, also referred to as Mahameru (Great Mountain), rises above coastal plains to the south. Gunung Semeru was constructed south of the overlapping Ajek-ajek and Jambangan calderas. A line of lake-filled maars was constructed along a N-S trend cutting through the summit, and cinder cones and lava domes occupy the eastern and NE flanks. Summit topography is complicated by the shifting of craters from NW to SE. Frequent 19th and 20th century eruptions were dominated by small-to-moderate explosions from the summit crater, with occasional lava flows and larger explosive eruptions accompanied by pyroclastic flows that have reached the lower flanks of the volcano.

Information Contacts: A. Sudradjat and L. Pardyanto, VSI.