Java: That’s why the Semeru is more deadly than the La Palma volcano


It does not stop! The Semeru volcano on Java gives no rest. Another outbreak made it difficult to find survivors.

Some of the emergency services had to withdraw when the volcano spat out ashes again. “There was a small new eruption that could endanger the evacuation teams,” said helper Rizal Purnama.

That is what makes the volcano so dangerous

“At Semeru erupts very viscous magma, very different from the relatively thin magma of La Palma. As a result, the eruption behavior of the Semeru is completely different, more explosive and also much more dangerous than that of La Palma, “says volcanologist Dr. Armin Freundt from the GEOMAR Helmholtz Center in Kiel on BILD.



Helpers recover a fatalityPhoto: JUNE KRISWANTO / AFP

The volcano expert explains: “The explosive eruptions are caused by the rapid expansion of igneous gases. They are released from the magma when it rises through the crust, similar to sparkling wine when the bottle is opened. The bubbles can easily arise in thin magma and in some cases simply escape upwards. In very viscous magma, bubbles have to grow against the viscosity, so to speak, which means that a very high pressure can build up in the bubbles. During the eruption, this pressure is suddenly released and causes the high explosiveness. “


The landscape around the volcano is covered with ash

The landscape around the volcano is covered with ash Photo: JUNE KRISWANTO / AFP

As with most Indonesian stratovolcanoes, there is a lava dome at the summit of Semeru. Every now and then something is blown away from him in explosive eruptions. Now and then it partially collapses – and lets streams of lava flow down the slopes.

The volcano expert on BILD: “These currents are deadly in the near field. The ash clouds rising several kilometers upwards cause ash to rain on the surroundings and the fine ash that drifts in the air represents a severe disruption to air traffic. The current phase of activity began around 2014. At the moment, the whole thing seems to be intensifying. As always, it is difficult to estimate how long the activity will continue. “


Semeru volcano on Monday during an eruption

Semeru volcano on Monday during an eruptionPhoto: Trisnadi / dpa

On Saturday, around a dozen villages on the island of Java were shrouded in ashes when the volcano erupted for the first time. Red lava flowed down Java’s highest mountain at 3,676 meters.

Thousands of residents fled. At least 15 people were killed in the volcanic eruption and dozen more were injured. According to the latest information from the civil protection agency, 27 people are still missing.


Map: Taal volcano and the

Indonesia has around 130 active volcanoes. The Southeast Asian island state is located on the so-called Pacific Ring of Fire. Several tectonic plates collide there, making earthquakes and volcanic eruptions particularly frequent.

At the end of 2018, a volcano erupted in a strait between the islands of Java and Sumatra and triggered an underwater landslide and tsunami. More than 400 people were killed.

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