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Report on Banda Api (Indonesia) — April 1988

Banda Api

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 4 (April 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Banda Api (Indonesia) Explosions and lava flow; 8,000 evacuated

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Banda Api (Indonesia) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198804-265090

Banda Api


4.523°S, 129.881°E; summit elev. 596 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Banda Api erupted on 9 May at 0630, ejecting a 3-km-high column of gas and tephra that included large incandescent blocks. Explosions continued through 10 May, accompanied by the production of a single lava flow [but see 13:5] that advanced eastward from the summit toward nearby Neira Island. The explosions originated from a line of five craters that probably follow a N-S fissure [but see 13:6] crossing the summit. [The eruption was preceded by several days of increasing seismicity, as follows (date, recorded/felt): 2 May, 11/3; 3 May, 1/0; 4 May, 51/11; 5 May, 110,11; and 6 May, 75/11.] On 8-10 May, earthquakes were felt every few minutes at the village of Neira, ~ 2 km E of the summit.

About 1,800 residents of the island have been evacuated to Neira Island and to the larger Lontar Island to the south. More than 5,000 of Neira city's ~ 6,000 inhabitants have also been evacuated to other locations on Neira and to Lontar Island. VSI operates an observation post at Neira city, equipped with a radio and a seismometer. VSI observers left from headquarters for Banda Api on 10 May.

Geological Summary. The 3-km-wide island of Banda Api is the northern-most volcano in the Banda arc and has a long period of recorded observation because of its key location in the Portuguese and Dutch spice trade. The basaltic-to-rhyodacitic volcano is located in the SW corner of a mostly submerged 7 km caldera. At least two episodes of caldera formation are thought to have occurred, with the arcuate islands of Lonthor and Neira considered to be pre-caldera remnants. A conical peak rises to about 600 m at the center of the island. Eruptions have been recorded since 1586 CE, mostly consisting of Strombolian eruptions from the summit crater, but larger explosive eruptions have occurred and occasional lava flows have reached the coast.

Information Contacts: VSI.