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Report on Semeru (Indonesia) — September 1999


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 24, no. 9 (September 1999)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Semeru (Indonesia) Short-lived Vulcanian explosions continuing from Jonggring Seloko Crater

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Semeru (Indonesia) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199909-263300



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The activity at Jonggring Seloko Crater in mid-September 1999 was very similar to that observed in the last recent years at the volcano. It consisted of short-lived non-sustained Vulcanian explosions producing 300-1,000-m-high ash plumes.

On 17 September there were 17 explosions witnessed during day-time hours. The time interval between two successive explosions ranged from 1 to 71 minutes, with an average of one explosion every 36 minutes. The next day 25 explosions were witnessed with 1 to 75 minutes between explosions and an average of one explosion every 32 minutes. These consistent statistics suggest that the present level of activity is lower than that observed in July 1996 and 1997 (BGVN 22:08). Of the 18 explosions closely witnessed, only two were capable of sending ballistic blocks higher than the N crater rim. All ballistic material felt back into the crater. However, the presence of fresh impact structures on the northern pyroclastic rampart of Jonggring Seloko Crater indicated that it is still occasionally showered by pyroclastic blocks.

The morphology of the crater floor changed considerably after the 1994 and 1995 eruptions. In mid-1996 and 1997 the bottom of Jonggring Seloko Crater was too deep to be visible from the NE crater rim. Observations on 18 September 1999 showed that the floor of the crater had risen several tens of meters and about 2/3 of the crater floor could be clearly seen. No evidence of lava or dome extrusion could be observed because of a thick carapace of pyroclastic ejecta and scree. The floor consists of an irregular platform. The southern part of the platform showed evidence of a recent subsidence event (scalloped normal faulting of ~10 m). The platform contained three principal active vents covered by their own ejecta. The central vent was partly surrounded by a small pyroclastic crescent.

Unsteady noisy steam emissions occurred sporadically either from the major vents or from other smaller vents on the crater floor. Larger explosions occurred only from the three principal vents and frequently progressed from the western to the eastern vent during the same explosion event. A moderate explosion at the central vent, observed from the NE crater rim, started with a booming sound followed by the noisy fallback of ballistic material into the crater. Convective uplift of the ash cloud allowed clear observation of the vent area which showed ash geysering silently ~20-40 m above the vent (with "cocktail" projections) for a few tens of seconds. The floor of the crater showed several dark areas, probably corresponding to wet zones, suggesting that water plays an important role in the explosive activity of Jonggring Seloko Crater.

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: Jean-Luc le Pennec, Institut de Recherche pour le Developpement and Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris. Tour 26, case 109, 4 place Jussieu, 75 252 Paris cedex 05, France; Sandrine Poteaux, 6 Villa Daviel, 75013 Paris, France; Isya N. Dana, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, Jalan Diponegoro No 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/).