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Report on Ibu (Indonesia) — June 2023


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 48, no. 6 (June 2023)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Research and preparation by Paul Berger.

Ibu (Indonesia) Daily ash explosions continue, along with thermal anomalies in the crater, October 2022-May 2023

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Ibu (Indonesia) (Venzke, E., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 48:6. Smithsonian Institution.



1.488°N, 127.63°E; summit elev. 1325 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Persistent eruptive activity since April 2008 at Ibu, a stratovolcano on Indonesian’s Halmahera Island, has consisted of daily explosive ash emissions and plumes, along with observations of thermal anomalies (BGVN 47:04). The current eruption continued during October 2022-May 2023, described below, based on advisories issued by the Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG, also known as Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation, CVGHM), daily reports by MAGMA Indonesia (a PVMBG platform), and the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC), and various satellite data. The Alert Level during the reporting period remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-4), except raised briefly to 3 on 27 May, and the public was warned to stay at least 2 km away from the active crater and 3.5 km away on the N side of the volcano.

According to MAGMA Indonesia, during October 2022-May 2023, daily gray-and-white ash plumes of variable densities rose 200-1,000 m above the summit and drifted in multiple directions. On 30 October and 11 November, plumes rose a maximum of 2 km and 1.5 km above the summit, respectively (figures 42 and 43). According to the Darwin VAAC, discrete ash emissions on 13 November rose to 2.1 km altitude, or 800 m above the summit, and drifted W, and multiple ash emissions on 15 November rose 1.4 km above the summit and drifted NE. Occasional larger ash explosions through May 2023 prompted PVMBG to issue Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) alerts (table 6); the Aviation Color Code remained at Orange throughout this period.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 42. Larger explosion from Ibu’s summit crater on 30 October 2022 that generated a plume that rose 2 km above the summit. Photo has been color corrected. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 43. Larger explosion from Ibu’s summit crater on 11 November 2022 that generated a plume that rose 1.5 km above the summit. Courtesy of MAGMA Indonesia.

Table 6. Volcano Observatory Notice for Aviation (VONA) ash plume alerts for Ibu issued by PVMBG during October 2022-May 2023. Maximum height above the summit was estimated by a ground observer. VONAs in January-May 2023 all described the ash plumes as dense.

Date Time (local) Max height above summit Direction
17 Oct 2022 0858 800 m SW
18 Oct 2022 1425 800 m S
19 Oct 2022 2017 600 m SW
21 Oct 2022 0916 800 m NW
16 Jan 2023 1959 600 m NE
22 Jan 2023 0942 1,000 m E
29 Jan 2023 2138 1,000 m E
10 May 2023 0940 800 m NW
10 May 2023 2035 600 m E
21 May 2023 2021 600 m W
21 May 2023 2140 1,000 m W
29 May 2023 1342 800 m N
31 May 2023 1011 1,000 m SW

Sentinel-2 L1C satellite images throughout the reporting period show two, sometimes three persistent thermal anomalies in the summit crater, with the most prominent hotspot from the top of a cone within the crater. Clear views were more common during March-April 2023, when a vent and lava flows on the NE flank of the intra-crater cone could be distinguished (figure 44). White-to-grayish emissions were also observed during brief periods when weather clouds allowed clear views.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 44. Sentinel-2 L2A satellite images of Ibu on 10 April 2023. The central cone within the summit crater (1.3 km diameter) and lava flows (gray) can be seen in the true color image (left, bands 4, 3, 2). Thermal anomalies from the small crater of the intra-crater cone, a NE-flank vent, and the end of the lava flow are apparent in the infrared image (right, bands 12, 11, 8A). Courtesy of Copernicus Browser.

The MIROVA space-based volcano hotspot detection system recorded almost daily thermal anomalies throughout the reporting period, though cloud cover often interfered with detections. Data from imaging spectroradiometers aboard NASA’s Aqua and Terra satellites and processed using the MODVOLC algorithm (MODIS-MODVOLC) recorded hotspots on one day during October 2022 and December 2022, two days in April 2023, three days in November 2022 and May 2023, and four days in March 2023.

Geological Summary. The truncated summit of Gunung Ibu stratovolcano along the NW coast of Halmahera Island has large nested summit craters. The inner crater, 1 km wide and 400 m deep, has contained several small crater lakes. The 1.2-km-wide outer crater is breached on the N, creating a steep-walled valley. A large cone grew ENE of the summit, and a smaller one to the WSW has fed a lava flow down the W flank. A group of maars is located below the N and W flanks. The first observed and recorded eruption was a small explosion from the summit crater in 1911. Eruptive activity began again in December 1998, producing a lava dome that eventually covered much of the floor of the inner summit crater along with ongoing explosive ash emissions.

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 (Multiplatform Application for Geohazard Mitigation and Assessment in Indonesia), Kementerian Energi dan Sumber Daya Mineral (URL: https://magma.esdm.go.id/v1); Copernicus Browser, Copernicus Data Space Ecosystem, European Space Agency (URL: https://dataspace.copernicus.eu/browser/); 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/); 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/).