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Report on Lewotolok (Indonesia) — May 2023


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 48, no. 5 (May 2023)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Research and preparation by Paul Berger.

Lewotolok (Indonesia) Strombolian eruption continues through April 2023 with intermittent ash plumes

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Lewotolok (Indonesia) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 48:5. Smithsonian Institution.



8.274°S, 123.508°E; summit elev. 1431 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The current eruption at Lewotolok, in Indonesian’s Lesser Sunda Islands, began in late November 2020 and has included Strombolian explosions, occasional ash plumes, incandescent ejecta, intermittent thermal anomalies, and persistent white and white-and-gray emissions (BGVN 47:10). Similar activity continued during October 2022-April 2023, as described in this report based on information provided by Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as CVGHM, or the Center of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation), MAGMA Indonesia, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and satellite data.

During most days in October 2022 white and white-gray emissions rose as high as 200-600 m above the summit. Webcam images often showed incandescence above the crater rim. At 0351 on 14 October, an explosion produced a dense ash plume that rose about 1.2 km above the summit and drifted SW (figure 43). After this event, activity subsided and remained low through the rest of the year, but with almost daily white emissions.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Webcam image of Lewotolok on 14 October 2022 showing a dense ash plume and incandescence above the crater. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

After more than two months of relative quiet, PVMBG reported that explosions at 0747 on 14 January 2023 and at 2055 on 16 January produced white-and-gray ash plumes that rose around 400 m above the summit and drifted E and SE (figure 44). During the latter half of January through April, almost daily white or white-and-gray emissions were observed rising 25-800 m above the summit, and nighttime webcam images often showed incandescent material being ejected above the summit crater. Strombolian activity was visible in webcam images at 2140 on 11 February, 0210 on 18 February, and during 22-28 March. Frequent hotspots were recorded by the MIROVA detection system starting in approximately the second week of March 2023 that progressively increased into April (figure 45).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Webcam image of an explosion at Lewotolok on 14 January 2023 ejecting a small ash plume along with white emissions. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 45. MIROVA Log Radiative Power graph of thermal anomalies detected by the VIIRS satellite instrument at Lewotolok’s summit crater for the year beginning 24 July 2022. Clusters of mostly low-power hotspots occurred during August-October 2022, followed by a gap of more than four months before persistent and progressively stronger anomalies began in early March 2023. Courtesy of MIROVA.

Explosions that produced dense ash plumes as high as 750 m above the summit were described in Volcano Observatory Notices for Aviation (VONA) at 0517, 1623, and 2016 on 22 March, at 1744 on 24 March, at 0103 on 26 March, at 0845 and 1604 on 27 March (figure 46), and at 0538 on 28 March. According to the Darwin VAAC, on 6 April another ash plume rose to 1.8 km altitude (about 370 m above the summit) and drifted N.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 46. Webcam image of Lewotolok at 0847 on 27 March 2023 showing a dense ash plume from an explosion along with clouds and white emissions. Courtesy of MAGMA-Indonesia.

Sentinel-2 images over the previous year recorded thermal anomalies as well as the development of a lava flow that descended the NE flank beginning in June 2022 (figure 47). The volcano was often obscured by weather clouds, which also often hampered ground observations. Ash emissions were reported in March 2022 (BGVN 47:10), and clear imagery from 4 March 2022 showed recent lava flows confined to the crater, two thermal anomaly spots in the eastern part of the crater, and mainly white emissions from the SE. Thermal anomalies became stronger and more frequent in mid-May 2022, followed by strong Strombolian activity through June and July (BGVN 47:10); Sentinel-2 images on 2 June 2022 showed active lava flows within the crater and overflowing onto the NE flank. Clear images from 23 April 2023 (figure 47) show the extent of the cooled NE-flank lava flow, more extensive intra-crater flows, and two hotspots in slightly different locations compared to the previous March.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 47. Sentinel-2 satellite images of Lewotolok showing sets of visual (true color) and infrared (bands 12, 11, 8a) views on 4 March 2022, 2 June 2022, and 23 April 2023. Courtesy of Copernicus Browser.

Geological Summary. The Lewotolok (or Lewotolo) stratovolcano occupies the eastern end of an elongated peninsula extending north into the Flores Sea, connected to Lembata (formerly Lomblen) Island by a narrow isthmus. It is symmetrical when viewed from the north and east. A small cone with a 130-m-wide crater constructed at the SE side of a larger crater forms the volcano's high point. Many lava flows have reached the coastline. Eruptions recorded since 1660 have consisted of explosive activity from the summit crater.

Information Contacts: Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), Jalan Diponegoro 57, Bandung 40122, Indonesia (URL: http://www.vsi.esdm.go.id/); MAGMA Indonesia, Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1); 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/); MIROVA (Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity), a collaborative project between the Universities of Turin and Florence (Italy) supported by the Centre for Volcanic Risk of the Italian Civil Protection Department (URL: http://www.mirovaweb.it/); Copernicus Browser, Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem, European Space Agency (URL: https://dataspace.copernicus.eu/browser/).