Kelud, in Indonesia

Update, March 18, 10:22 p.m. Eastern: Here’s a group that went up to the crater recently!!! They reach it at about 7:52 in the video. They’re not thrill seekers. Google translation of the blurb they posted along with the video at YouTube:

Group GGG trail again made a breakthrough at the time of the post-eruption kelud, pd previous editions of this trail group actively implement donations for victims of the eruption, now trail GGG grooup cooperate dg Kediri Police Mobile Brigade and implement viable Kelud dg maksudl Expedition to research the state of the crater of Mount kelud after eruption


Wow! (h/t to GuillermoChile and René Goad)

Update, March 13 , 2014, 3:13 p.m. Eastern: Someone was asking if Kelud is a hot spot volcano, perhaps because of the mention of MODIS hot spot in the February 24th update below.

It’s not. It’s a subduction zone volcano, caused by plate tectonics.

Caused by this.  (Source)

Kelud: One of these deals. (Source) Indonesia is a volcanic arc just like the Cascades or Aleutian Islands.

It’s not a hot spot volcano, like Hawaii or the Galapagos Islands, caused by, erm, well, maybe it happens as shown in the animation below (source). Scientists are still working on understanding hot spot causes.

A MODIS “hot spot” is just something you see on a satellite image, and can be volcanic eruptions, wildfires, or other hot stuff on the planet. Per Dr. Wikipedia:

The Moderate-resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) is a payload scientific instrument launched into Earth orbit by NASA in 1999 on board the Terra (EOS AM) Satellite, and in 2002 on board the Aqua (EOS PM) satellite. The instruments capture data in 36 spectral bands ranging in wavelength from 0.4 µm to 14.4 µm and at varying spatial resolutions (2 bands at 250 m, 5 bands at 500 m and 29 bands at 1 km). Together the instruments image the entire Earth every 1 to 2 days. They are designed to provide measurements in large-scale global dynamics including changes in Earth’s cloud cover, radiation budget and processes occurring in the oceans, on land, and in the lower atmosphere. Three on-board calibrators (a solar diffuser combined with a solar diffuser stability monitor, a spectral radiometric calibration assembly, and a black body) provide in-flight calibration. MODIS has used the Marine Optical Buoy for vicarious calibration.


The MODIS hot spot for Kelud (top image) is cooler than the fiery red ones on the Big Island of Hawaii (Kilauea's summit is the one on the left, Pu'u O'o on the right).

The MODIS hot spot for Kelud (top image) is cooler in color as well as temperature compared to the fiery red ones on the Big Island of Hawaii (Kilauea’s summit is the one on the left, I believe, Pu’u O’o on the right).


Update, February 24, 2014, 11:15 a.m. Eastern: Per John Seach at Volcano Discovery (his link):

Kelud (East Java): (21 Feb) A MODIS hot spot is visible at the crater, suggesting that a new lava dome could be forming there. This would be the effusive continuation of the recent explosion on 13 Feb, as magma with much less gas content continues to arrive at the vent.
…23 Feb:
Activity at the volcano has decreased, but it is still unknown what exactly the situation at the vent is, whether or not a new lava dome is forming there. The thermal hot spot visible on satellite data could also be caused by hot gasses.

He also included a link to some fantastic images by Øystein Lund Andersen of the volcano at around 2 to 2.5 km, as well as images by a local photographer that may (or may not) be the first images of the crater after the explosive eruption.

Also, volcanologist David Pyle has done a must-read Storify of the eruption.

Per the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program website, the February 13th eruption reportedly killed 7 people, affected agriculture and water supplies, and damaged 3,782 houses, 20 government buildings, 251 schools, nine hospitals, and 36 churches.

It’s the rainy season in Indonesia, and there are also lahars, per the Jakarta Globe. I’m not sure if the image accompanying the story is floodwater or a lahar.

It's very inconspicuous.  (Image:  Java Tourism)

Inconspicuous. (Image: Java Tourism)

“An Indonesian volcano has erupted…”

How many times have you seen that on the news lately? It’s confusing, because sometimes the volcano is called Sinabung (see right sidebar) and sometimes Kelud.

Mount Sinabung on the island of Sumatra has dominated the news since it rumbled into life last fall, but Mount Kelud on the island of Java is the Indonesian volcano you’ve been hearing about since Thursday, when it had either a subplinian or plinian eruption – either way, that’s really big.

The Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program describes Kelud as an “inconspicuous” but very dangerous volcano. It erupts violently and fairly often.

Three days ago it was really in the mood.

Here’s what the lava dome that first appeared at Kelud’s summit during the 2007 eruption looked like just before 6 p.m. on February 13, 2014:

Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI)

Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI)

Five hours later, its fragments (and presumably bits and pieces of the volcano webcam) were literally “well into the stratosphere”:
Authorities had known an eruption was coming and raised the alert level, but they were surprised by how fast it happened.

The eruption was heard over 100 miles away and heavy ashfall occurred even farther away (source and more information).

Yogakarta, the morning after the eruption.  (Aldnonymous)

Yogyakarta, the morning after the eruption. (Aldnonymous)

Besides ash, Kelud also released a huge cloud of sulfur dioxide.

Fortunately, the volcano is quieter now. Some of Java’s airports are reopening, and soon the 200,000 evacuees will be able to go back and restart their lives.

That’s how this volcano operates, experts say – it just sits around being inconspicuous, then suddenly violently explodes, only to settle back down again.

It’s a deadly pattern, but the death tolls have dropped dramatically even though more people are living around Kelud than ever before.

Three people are known to have died this week – two when ash collapsed the roof on their home and one from ash inhalation. That’s tragic, but it is a vast improvement from the 5,000-6,000 people who died in a VEI 4 eruption at Kelud in 1919.

At that time, there was a deep lake at the summit. The presence of all that water during the eruption led to mudflows/lahars that engulfed entire villages.

Land is at a premium in crowded Indonesia, and at Kelud people really do live "under the volcano."

Land is at a premium in crowded Indonesia, and at Kelud people really do live “under the volcano.”

Through most of the 20th century, Indonesians managed to reduce the amount of crater lake water, though it was a long, challenging struggle. Kelud erupted several times during the process, but the engineers persevered.

It paid off – VEI 4 eruptions in 1951, 1966 and 1990 killed a total of 250 people.

Nowadays Kelud and other Category “A” Indonesian volcanoes (those that have erupted relatively recently) are closely monitored. The final toll for Thursday’s powerful eruption at Kelud is probably going rise some, but the advance warning as well as very low lake levels will undoubtedly have saved many, many lives.

They’re going to have to get a new volcano cam,though.

More information (Note: They haven’t yet updated this page as I write, but it will soon be current)

Categories: Sunday morning volcano, volcanoes

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