Rumbling Mt Batur Sparks Eruption Alert

DENPASAR ~ Trekking tours around Mt Batur have been cancelled and the mountain has been placed off-limits to local people following increased volcanic activity that has sparked an eruption alert.

Volcanic tremors from the mountain, in the Kintamani area of Bangli regency, have increased in strength and in frequency from around five tremors a day to 60. They are being felt by people living within a 2km radius of the mountain.

The heightened activity began in September and has increased markedly in recent days. Between November 1 and November 7 at least 12 “significant events” were recorded.

“The volcano that last erupted in 2000 has been showing increasing activity as seen from the black smoke coming out of the mountain several times,” the head of the mountain’s monitoring centre, Anak Agung Anom Karsana, said this week.

“From 1804 to 2000, the mountain erupted 28 times with lapses (intervals) of one to 39 years,” he said.

Karsana advised people living around the mountain to monitor and respond to directives from the local disaster mitigation coordinating board which was working with the geological branch of the Energy and Resources Ministry.

People should remain calm and not act on rumours, he said.

Karsana said the mountain’s eruptions were generally effusive and Strombolian – a volcanologist description for the generally mild-to-moderate character of the eruptions it produces (Stromboli is an island volcano off Italy) – with lava and ash or rocks usually reaching only 100 metres out around the rim of the crater.

But during an eruption smoke could rise up to 300m metres above the crater.

“Those are all the characteristics of Mt Batur when it erupts,” Karsana said.

Volcanic activity from the mountain would be closely monitored in order to anticipate an eruption or return the area to active-normal status.

Mt Batur, which is 1,717 metres high, is sacred to the area’s indigenous Balinese people.

It lies at the centre of two concentric calderas northwest of Mt Agung, Bali’s highest mountain. Lake Batur, in the caldera, contains an active volcanic cone rising 700m from the lake’s surface.

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