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Report on Galunggung (Indonesia) — April 1982


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 4 (April 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Galunggung (Indonesia) Explosions and pyroclastic flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Galunggung (Indonesia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198204-263140



7.25°S, 108.058°E; summit elev. 2168 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

After 64 years of quiescence, a series of explosions . . . began 5 April. The most recent of these, which are reported to have claimed 30 lives, occurred the night of 17 May and at 1600 on 18 May. There is no permanent observatory at the volcano, but seismic monitoring has been conducted there for three months of every year since 1976. No significant seismic activity was recorded during the last monitoring period, September-November 1981.

Residents of villages 3 km from the summit felt an earthquake about 2200 on 4 April. At midnight, subsurface rumbling was heard, followed by emission of thick white fume. Detonations began at about 0200 on 5 April, and at 0400 a larger explosion ejected a black cloud. Explosive activity continued until about 1600, depositing ash on Bandung (population more than 1 million), 65 km to the NW. Persons living near the volcano fled the activity. The next day, VSI recommended to local officials that the SE flank remain evacuated within 6 km of the summit, but other residents could return to their homes.

An explosion at 2108 on 8 April, 23 minutes after a M 3.8 felt earthquake, was described by VSI on 1 May as the main eruption of the series. No local earthquakes had been reported since 6 April. A pyroclastic flow traveled 5 km from the crater down a SE flank river valley (the Cibanjaran), destroying small villages in the evacuated zone. Large volcanic ejecta killed three people 7 km from the volcano and ash fell as far as 23 km away. After this explosion, both eruptive and seismic activity ceased for several days. Earthquakes resumed 11 April. The number of events varied, but magnitudes and total energy release increased. Based on the seismicity, residents were warned 20 April of the danger of more eruptions.

Local newspapers reported moderate explosions 20 April. A thick black and white cloud ejected at 0808 rose ~ 2 km. Louder explosions at 0815 were followed by the ejection of a dense black cloud. Ash fell on nearby villages. At 0850 explosions were occurring every 15 seconds. By late afternoon six explosive episodes had been detected from nearby villages and rain mixed with ash was falling. Small eruption columns were observed 21-22 April. In accordance with VSI recommendations construction of dams to protect inhabited areas from lahars had begun by mid-April.

Renewed explosive activity began 25 April at 0455. A pyroclastic flow again moved down the Cibanjaran River valley, reaching 4.7 km from the crater. Tephra fell to the E and SE, with lapilli falling about 7 km away. As of 30 April, no additional eruptions had occurred, but VSI expected activity to resume within a few days. AFP reported that an explosion occurred 6 May at 0105. Ash fell 160 km away and two people were injured by hot tephra in Garut. On 17 May hot tephra showered the town of Tasikmalaya (17 km ESE) and injured four people; on the 18th, 2 cm of tephra accumulated there.

Geological Summary. The forested slopes Galunggung in western Java are cut by a large horseshoe-shaped caldera breached to the SE that has served to channel the products of recent eruptions in that direction. The "Ten Thousand Hills of Tasikmalaya" dotting the plain below the volcano are debris-avalanche hummocks from the collapse that formed the breached caldera about 4,200 years ago. Historical eruptions have been infrequent and restricted to the central vent near the caldera headwall, but have caused much devastation. The first historical eruption in 1822 produced pyroclastic flows and lahars that killed over 4,000 people. A strong explosive eruption during 1982-1983 caused severe economic disruption to nearby populated areas.

Information Contacts: VSI; M. Krafft, Cernay; Jakarta DRS; Kompas and Sinar Harapan, Jakarta; AFP.