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Indonesian volcanoes: Mount Kelud

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November 2, 2007
Mt. Kelud close to blowing its top: scientists

MOUNT KELUD, East Java(AP): Scientists said tremors rocking a deadly Indonesian volcano Friday were signs a powerful eruption could be imminent, while some nearby villagers were staying put hoping that if they kept quiet the mountain would not blow.

The intensity and frequency of the tremors at Mount Kelud already exceed those in the days preceding the last time its blew its top in 1990, indicating an underground reservoir of magma is poised to break the surface of a lake at its crater.

"The activity of volcanic tremor is increasing, but the eruption has not happened yet," said Umar Rosadi, part of a team of 16 scientists monitoring the peak in the heart of densely populated Java island. "It is strange, but that is the nature of the volcano."

More than 100,000 people living in areas considered to be at risk were ordered from their homes when the peak was put at its highest alert level more than two weeks ago, but most never left or have since returned to their homes, officials say.

Some of those who stayed behind were asked to sign a statement saying they would not seek compensation funds if they were injured or lost family members due to an eruption, said local community leader chief Susiadi, who goes by a single name.

Villager Sugeng Ruwanto said many of his fellow villagers believed a local myth stating that if they stayed at home without switching indoor lights on or speaking in a loud voice then the mountain would not erupt. Along with hundreds of other people, Ruwanto remained in Anyar village, some 5 kilometers from the crater of Kelud.

Scientists fear that if the magma hits the water inside the crater lake, a giant explosion could occur, sending water, mud and ash careering down the side of the 1,731-meter mountain.

November 7, 2007
Mt. Kelud lava dome grows, slows eruption

From The Jakarta Post

The Mount Kelud observation team reported that the slab of cold lava in the middle of the mountain's crater has grown.


"Its getting taller, now it is about 70 meters tall. Its diameter has also increased to over 100 meters," observation team member said, adding that the crater itself was only 200 meters in diameter.

The team believed the cold lava was blocking the exit route of the lava, thus preventing Mount Kelud from erupting. They said that the team believed the dome was made of andesit stone.

"This lava dome will keep getting higher and bigger. Frankly speaking, we don't know whether it will form a small mountain itself. We also don't know whether Mount Kelud will explode or if all its volcanic activities will stop after it gives birth to this lava dome," he said.

So far, the upward thrusting movement of the lava dome has pushed all water out of the crater.

"We estimated the crater housed over 2.5 millions cubic meters of water. We don't know how much water was pushed out by the lava dome, neither do we know whether the water was dangerous to human beings,".

"The formation of the dome pushed the temperature inside the crater up. Now, its about 100 degrees Celsius down there,".

As of Tuesday, a tall column of thick sulfuric smoke was still billowing out of the crater. The team said the smoke was believed to be one kilometer high. They also said the public needed to remember that the smoke was extremely poisonous and that the peak was still off limits.

However, Erfan, a photographer for a local newspaper who entered the restricted zone, said that many villagers were still in the area near the crater. "Despite the warnings, we met no difficulties in entering the zone. The entry point wasn't even guarded by the police as it is supposed to be," he said.






In 1990, Mount Kelud killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds. In 1919, a massive explosion at Kelud that could be heard hundreds of kilometers away destroyed dozens of villages and killed at least 5,160.

Indonesia has around 100 active volcanos, more than any nation.

The country is spread across 17,500 islands and is prone to volcanic eruptions and earthquakes due to its location on the so-called "Ring of Fire" - a series of fault lines stretching from the Western Hemisphere through Japan and Southeast Asia.

At any one time several of its volcanos are spewing ash or lava or showing other signs of eruption, but scientists take no chances with Kelud because of its deadly history. (***)



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