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Report on Merapi (Indonesia) — 15 March-21 March 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 March-21 March 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Merapi (Indonesia) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 March-21 March 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (15 March-21 March 2023)



7.54°S, 110.446°E; summit elev. 2910 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

BPPTKG summarized the eruption at Merapi (on Java) during 10-16 March, including the collapses at the SW lava dome that began on 11 March and continued through the week. A total of 68 pyroclastic flows traveled as far as 4 km down the Bebeng and Krasak drainages on the SW flank. The largest pyroclastic flows were recorded during 11-12 March, which caused ashfall of varying intensity in areas to the W, NW, and N including in Dukun District, Sawangan, Magelang Regency; Magelang City; Selo District, Boyolali Regency; Ambarawa, Jambu, Sumowono, Pringapus, Banyubiru, Bawen Districts, Semarang Regency. Morphological changes to the SW lava domes were evident in webcam and drone images. The volume of the dome before 11 March was 2,759,100 cubic meters and by 13 March the dome volume had decreased to 1,686,200 cubic meters, with an estimate volume loss of 1,072,800 cubic meters. The volume of the summit dome remained unchanged and was estimated at 2,312,100 cubic meters.

According to the Darwin VAAC ash plumes were visible in webcam images on 15 and 17 March rising as high as 1.2 km above the summit and drifting S and W, respectively. On both days weather conditions prevented satellite image views. During 16-20 March BPPTKG reported 14-38 daily counts of lava avalanches with material descending the SW flank as far as 1.8 km. Daily counts were not available for 17 March, though incandescent avalanches were visible in webcam footage; rainy weather sometimes prevented visual observations. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a scale of 1-4), and the public was warned to stay 3-7 km away from the summit based on location.

Geological Summary. Merapi, one of Indonesia's most active volcanoes, lies in one of the world's most densely populated areas and dominates the landscape immediately north of the major city of Yogyakarta. It is the youngest and southernmost of a volcanic chain extending NNW to Ungaran volcano. Growth of Old Merapi during the Pleistocene ended with major edifice collapse perhaps about 2,000 years ago, leaving a large arcuate scarp cutting the eroded older Batulawang volcano. Subsequent growth of the steep-sided Young Merapi edifice, its upper part unvegetated due to frequent activity, began SW of the earlier collapse scarp. Pyroclastic flows and lahars accompanying growth and collapse of the steep-sided active summit lava dome have devastated cultivated lands on the western-to-southern flanks and caused many fatalities.

Sources: Balai Penyelidikan dan Pengembangan Teknologi Kebencanaan Geologi (BPPTKG), Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC)