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Report on Semeru (Indonesia) — June 2004

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 29, no. 6 (June 2004)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Semeru (Indonesia) Persistent seismicity and ash plumes during April-June 2004

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Semeru (Indonesia). In: Wunderman, R. (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 29:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200406-263300.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin


Semeru

Indonesia

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


According to the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Semeru remained at Alert Level II (on a scale of 1-4) for the entire report period of April-June 2004. VSI characterizes Level II as "increasing seismic activity and other volcanic events and visual changes around the crater" but also states that this definition implies "no eruption is imminent." A pilot reported an 18 June ash plume rising to 6 km.

During the week of 12-18 April, tectonic earthquakes and tremor increased. Plumes sometimes containing ash were observed reaching heights of 110-400 m above the summit. Other seismic signals (including those from explosions, avalanches, and tremor) also continued. The Darwin VAAC reported that an ash plume was visible in satellite imagery on 18 April, reaching a height of ~ 4.5 km and extending ~ 90 km NW.

During 19-25 April, white-gray ash plumes were observed reaching heights of 100-400 m above the summit. The Darwin VAAC reported that an ash plume was visible in satellite imagery on 20 April, reaching a height of ~ 4.5 km and extending ~ 75 km SSE. Another plume on 21 April rose to ~ 4.6 km altitude and drifted ESE. Increases occurred in tremor as well as tectonic earthquakes, shallow-volcanic earthquakes, and explosion earthquakes. The number of avalanche signals decreased (table 16).

Table 16. Summary of seismicity at Semeru during 12 April-4 July 2004. The highest values in several categories occured during 7-13 June. Courtesy of VSI.

Date Volcanic-A earthquakes Volcanic-B earthquakes Tremor Tectonic earthquakes Explosion signals Avalanche signals
12 Apr-18 Apr 2004 0 0 25 5 508 10
19 Apr-25 Apr 2004 0 3 38 11 638 8
26 Apr-02 May 2004 1 2 19 7 736 12
03 May-09 May 2004 1 0 22 7 853 9
07 Jun-13 Jun 2004 2 9 34 15 902 22
14 Jun-20 Jun 2004 1 0 19 14 630 11
21 Jun-27 Jun 2004 4 5 39 8 860 14
28 Jun-04 Jul 2004 0 1 27 16 805 12

During the week of 26 April-2 May, explosion and avalanche signals increased, with continuing tremor, and volcanic earthquakes. Tremor and explosion signals increased, but avalanche signals decreased, during the week of 3-9 May. White-gray ash plumes were observed reaching heights of 300-400 m above the summit during both weeks. The Darwin VAAC reported that a thin ash plume from Semeru was visible on satellite imagery on 23 May around 0625; it reached a height of ~ 4.3 km altitude and extended ~ 110 km SSE.

An ash plume from Semeru was reported on 4 June rising to ~ 4.5 km altitude During the week of 7-13 June, a white-gray plume was observed on a clear day rising to heights of 300-400 m above the summit. Seismographs recorded an increasing number of volcanic, tectonic, and tremor earthquakes, and explosion and avalanche signals compared to the previous week. Indeed, that week was the most seismically active on the basis of most parameters, with more than 900 explosion signals and more volcanic earthquakes, tremor, and avalanche signals than any other week (table 16).

Visual observation was difficult during 14-20 June due to fog, although a white-gray plume was observed on 18 June, rising to heights of 500-600 m above the summit. Based on a pilot's report, the Darwin VAAC reported that on 18 June an ash cloud from Semeru was visible at a height of ~ 6 km altitude, extending ~ 40 km E; this was the highest recorded ash cloud during the report interval. No ash was visible on satellite imagery. The number of volcanic, tremor, and tectonic earthquakes, and explosion and avalanche signals decreased from the previous week.

Foggy weather made visual observation difficult again during the week of 21-27 June. On one clear day a white-gray ash explosion was observed rising 500-600 m above the summit. Seismographs recorded volcanic, tremor, and tectonic earthquakes, and explosion and avalanche signals. Seismicity had generally increased, except for tectonic earthquakes, compared to the previous week.

During the week of 28 June-4 July, visual observations of the summit were again difficult because of cloud cover, but a gray ash plume was observed rising to 500-600 m above the summit on one clear day. Seismographs still recorded volcanic, tremor, and tectonic earthquakes, and explosion and avalanche signals.

Geologic Background. 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: Dali Ahmad, Hetty Triastuty, Nia Haerani, and Suswati, Vulcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), Jalan Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.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/).