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Old November 1 2010, 03:10 PM   #19
Locutus of Bored
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Re: Indonesia Struck by Earthquake, Tsunami, & Volcanic Eruption

Locutus of Gourd wrote: View Post
TorontoTrekker wrote: View Post
Locutus of Gourd wrote: View Post
But to have an earthquake (which triggered the fatal tsunami) and an unrelated fatal volcanic eruption hit within the span a single day is unbelievably bad luck.
Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if the eruption was related to the earthquake - I can see the earthquake causing a shift that opened up a path for the volcano to start spewing, and the island isn't that big.
They were different islands: Java for the volcano and the Mentawai Islands off of Sumatra for the earthquake and tsunami, which are about 1300 kilometers apart.

Seismologists said that there's no evidence that the two events are related. Merapi is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia (which has 129 other active volcanoes), having erupted and caused fatalities in 2006, 1994, and 1930 with other more minor eruptions in between. This eruption was described as the volcano undergoing a large but relatively common release of pent up pressure, possibly in anticipation of a larger eruption in the near future, depending on whether it forms a lava dome or not.
TT, I take that back, as now it seems some geologists and volcanologists are contradicting those earlier reports and are indeed saying that the two incidents are related, and are part of an increased level of volcanic/seismic activity where the Eurasian and Pacific plates meet that may indicate a number of new eruptions of several volcanoes in the area happening soon:

The fault line that caused last week's 7.7-magnitude earthquake and killer wave that followed and also the 2004 tsunami that killed 230,000 people in a dozen countries is the meeting point of the Eurasian and Pacific tectonic plates that have been pushing against and under each other for millions of years, causing huge stresses to build up. It runs the length of the west coast of Sumatra island.

Both earthquakes and volcanos can be related to movements in the overlapping plates that form the earth's crust. As plates slide against or under each other, molten rock from the layer of mantle can break the surface via a volcano, or create energy released in an earthquake.

The government has raised alert levels of 21 other volcanoes to the second- and third- highest levels in the last two months because they have shown an increase in activity, said Syamsul Rizal, a state volcanologist, said monday. Many of those are already rumbling and belching out heavy black ash.

Indonesia has several volcanos smoldering at any given time, but another government volcanologist Gede Swantika said there are normally only five to 10 on the third-highest alert level, indicating an increase in seismic activity and visible changes in the crater, and none at the second-highest, signifying an eruption is possible within two weeks. He said monitors noticed more volcanos were exhibiting seismic activity starting Sept. 2.

"We can say this is quite extraordinary, about 20 at the same time," Swantika said. "We have to keep an eye on those mountains. ... But I cannot say or predict which will erupt. What we can do is monitor patterns."

Geologist Brent McInnes said as he hadn't seen the raw data but would find such a rash of volcanic activity significant.

"If it's true that there are over 20 volcanos demonstrating increased levels of seismic activity, then that is something we should pay attention to," said McInnes, a professor at Australia's Curtin University who has done extensive volcanic research in Indonesia.

He said such an increase could indicate "maybe there is a major plate restructuring going on, and that would be significant."

Two of the closely watched volcanos Karangetang and Ibu are at the second-highest alert level. Karanetang erupted in August, killing four people, and both mountains are now shooting out ash daily, local monitors said. The two mountains lie within a few hundred miles (kilometers) of each other more than 1,400 miles (2,300 kilometers) northeast of Jakarta.

Anak Krakatua, a volcano known as the "Child of Krakatoa" also started shooting lava last week. Although the firebursts look spectacular, there were no immediate signs of major eruption, said Anton Tripambudi, a government seismologist.

The mountain, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Jakarta, was formed after the Krakatoa eruption of 1883, the largest volcanic eruption in recorded history that, along with a tsunami, killed at least 36,417 people.
Here's hoping they're just venting to release some pressure and it doesn't turn into a series of major volcanic eruptions, because - besides being bad for the people of Indonesia obviously - that can seriously mess with the global climate for a while.

The first part of the article is about how Merapi erupted again yesterday, and it was its most powerful eruption yet. The people there just can't catch a break.

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