Sinabung Eruption Updates – Late 2014 Eruption

Back to the main Sinabung eruption post.

Update, 8/12/2015: Sinabung just keeps slowly oozing very thick lava which forms a dome and then crumbles into impressive pyroclastic flows. Here is a shot of today’s dome:




June 3, 2015: The volcano has been keeping on, keeping on, but now authorities have raised it to the highest alert level, reportedly. They say Sinabung has shown increased activity, and its lava dome is unstable, with a volume of more than 3 million cubic meters (machine-translated report here). If it collapses, it could run out 7 km (a little over 4 miles), they estimate, and evacuations of thousands of people have been called.

March 8, 2015, 4:46 p.m. Pacific: Sinabung keeps doing its thing. This episode has been going on since 2013! It just continues on and on. There are still huge pyroclastic flows, still many lahars, and here’s a shot from Twitter of the sticky magma lobe that has oozed out of the vent. It just collects there until it destabilizes and then – whoosh! Pyroclastic density current.


January 21, 2015, 1:40 p.m. Pacific: Not much change at the volcano, but here is a tweet showing a couple of beautiful closeups of the “spine” of lava now extruding at the summit. When people call this type of lava “sticky,” it is, if anything, an understatement!


January 3, 2015: Sinabung has been carrying on per usual, but today it had a large explosion – I’m guessing the whole dome went.


Per the Google translation of this story, “Sinabung Erupts Again, Residents Stay Calm.” Read the whole thing, if you can. Those people are really going through a lot, and amazingly, they’re just hanging in there. “Build back better and safer.”

A tremendous story, and it deserves to be better known in the West.


December 5, 3:12 p.m.: The volcano has been behaving pretty much the same – active, with many flows. I just saw this nice image of the lava tongue at the summit:


November 22, 4:30 p.m. Pacific: It has been pretty much the same, but this week a new solid lava (as compared to pyroclastic density currents) was seen coming down the southern flank:


November 10, 2014, 11:10 a.m.: Sinabung continues to have multiple pyroclastic flows. Someone tweeted an image of Sukameriah village, where over 10 people died earlier this year when a pyroclastic flow trapped them while they were visiting their homes illegally.



Update, October 31, 12:29 p.m. The text below says it all: “Explosions and pyroclastic clouds continue at Mount Sinabung.”


Update, October 30, 12:04 p.m.: An indication of how this eruption is perceived inside Indonesia. The country’s newly elected president made his first official visit anywhere since being sworn in last week – to visit refugees from the volcano!

And in the meantime, Sinabung remains active:


Update, October 26, 2:49 p.m. Pacific: This activity has been ongoing and still is:


Update, October 25, 11:57 a.m., Pacific: Volcano Discovery reports that flows continue and this one (image tweeted by somebody else) probably ran out up to 4 km and had a plume rising to some 15,000 feet.


Update, October 21, 2014, 11 a.m. Pacific: Flows continue. Local people demonstrate resilience and…



Update, 5:14 p.m., Pacific: Gorgeous image – the light/shadow mixtures show just how built up the area near that volcano is…and they didn’t even know it was an active volcano until last year!

October 20, 11:39 a.m. Pacific: Flows continue. Found a close-up of the top of the dome today:


The Jakarta Post reports that the flows are not as severe, and that tourists are coming back.


October 19, 1:59 p.m. Pacific: A quick look online shows that the situation remains pretty much the same. Per Google translation of Indonesian news reports, the ash from all these pyroclastic flows is getting into everything, including refugee centers, unfortunately.
October 18, 2014, 11:28 a.m.: Ongoing dome collapses and flows, from what I can learn online. A couple of beautiful images tweeted:


Per Google Translate, this…

…says, “Sometimes distress (disaster) is your best friend. They are more powerful for you jd, and for you to put God on your side that is closest…”

The world has focused on Sinabung’s terrible beauty, but I am astounded and humbled by the beautiful strength of those who endure and live under the volcano. I hope GT gets this right: Indonesia, Anda mungkin akan baik, bahagia, dan damai. Indonesians, may you be well, happy, and at peace.


October 17, 2014, 12:59 p.m. Pacific: Pyroclastic flows continue. Per the Google translation of this Indonesian-language story, the central government is expected to declare this long-term eruption a national disaster.

Per the Google translation of this story, experts estimate that 30% of Sinabung’s lava dome has collapsed. Seismic monitoring shows a continuing supply of magma. The rate of lava extrusion is 5 m3/second. I think the volcanologist also said that the number of daily pyroclastic flows has dropped since October 15, but a major eruption could still occur. Sinabung is still at Level III alert.

October 16, 2014, 1:20 p.m.: Sinabung is still at it:

The Jakarta Post reports that “[t]housands of residents in 16 subdistricts around Mount Sinabung in Karo regency, North Sumatra, are badly in need of clean water, after withstanding the effects of the volcano’s eruptions from their houses for almost two weeks.”

October 15, 2014, 12:04 p.m.: Per the Jakarta Post, pyroclastic flows and “blazing lava” have set fire to one of the villages that were evacuated last year – Suka Meriah. This village was the site of those tragic deaths back in February when people visiting illegally were caught in a pyroclastic flow.

October 14, 2014, 11:36 a.m., Pacific: Flows continue.

The Jakarta Post warns of rain-triggered “cold lava flows,” also known as lahars.

Per the Google translation of this video’s title, local people are using “Guard action of cold lava lava flows of Sinabung switch so as not to residential areas.”

Per the Google translation of this Jogja Tribune article, volcanic ash has caused about USD 8 million damage to local agriculture.

October 13, 2014, 11:47 a.m., Pacific: Activity is still strong, with frequent pyroclastic flows. The combination of ash and rain locally has led to some dramatic pictures:


The head of the Sinabung observation post reportedly told The Jakarta Post there’s a good chance the volcano will continue its activity over coming days.

Per the Google translation of this Indonesian-language story, Sinabung’s ash column reached 10,000 feet today, moving to the northwest. Silangit Airport was closed.

The Google-translated Karo District website reports that the volcano is still at level III alert. Pyroclastic flows are running out to the south.

Meanwhile, life goes on.


October 11, 2014, 11:47 a.m., Pacific: Sinabung’s pyroclastic flows continue:

It seems a little less, per the Google translation of the Karo District website report yesterday:

Observed 1 time avalanches of hot clouds as far as 2,000 meters peaks to the south and the column of volcanic ash 1,000 meters high.

Observed incandescent lava from near the summit (West side) as far as 500 meters to the south and from the middle of the lava tongue (East side) as far as 1,000 feet to the Southeast.



October 9, 2014, 4:43 p.m. Pacific: Sinabung had lots of flows today (tweet link is to Indonesian-language site):


Update, October 8, 2014, 1:36 p.m., Pacific: Per the Twitterverse, Sinabung is having several large pyroclastic flows, and they have kindled a forest fire. Here are a couple of the most spectacular images I’ve seen tweeted:



NBC News reports that hundreds have fled their homes after the eruptions of the last four days. Per the Google translation of this Indonesian-language news report, volcanologists say hybrid tremor is still high and so is the potential for eruption. There have been four flows today, with plumes up to 1.5 km high. The 3-km no-go zone is still in place, and they are advising people to keep at least 5 km away from the volcano to the southeast and south.

Update, October 7, 2014, 11:34 a.m., Pacific: Today at 4:34 a.m. local time, thermal cameras reportedly observed a pyroclastic flow running out 4.5 km to the south and 3 km to the SE, over 1,260 seconds. The volcano is still at level 3 alert. I’ve found no other news, including no news of any evacuations.

Update, October 6, 2014, 12:42 p.m.: The Jakarta Post reports on Sunday’s “rapid-fire eruptions.”

Today, there are more pyroclastic flows, running out as far as 2.5 km to the South. The Karo District website reports Sinabung is still at Level III and tremor is constant.

Twitter user endrolewa, who has been posting some nice images of the flows, got to within 7 km of the volcano and captured an image of the differences on either bank of the river:



Update, October 5, 2014, 2:14 p.m.: Another dome collapse today. Here are just two of a selection of nice images from the Volcano Discovery on Twitter of today’s ash plume and pyroclastic flows:



Per news reports, the ash column went up to about 3km (almost 2 miles) during four eruptions today. The flows reportedly traveled as much as 4.5 km (over 2 miles) to the south. Fortunately, no evacuations were needed.

Update, October 4, 2014, 10:23 a.m. Pacific: It sounds like there was another lava dome collapse today:


This is what I’ve been able to find today, October 2nd, about the volcano’s status. The event on the 24th was a lava dome collapse. It happens when the sticky lava piles up to such an extent that it’s no longer stable. Right now it doesn’t appear to this amateur that Sinabung’s activity is as high as it was back in January and February 2014, so there probably won’t be daily updates here. However, I will keep an eye on it and update here as needed.

Update, October 1, 2014, 12:17 p.m. Pacific: Per the Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program update:

According to news articles a pyroclastic flow at Sinabung traveled 2 km SE down the flanks at 1343 on 24 September. The height of a corresponding ash plume could not be determined because it rose into the cloud cover. About 4,700 people remained in evacuation shelters. On 30 September at 1720 an ash plume rose 2 km and a pyroclastic flow traveled 3.5 km.

I don’t see a mention of Sinabung on the list of volcano alerts at the VSI front page (linked above) just now – only Mounts Karangetang, Lokon, Kelud, and Slamet are mentioned (yes, Indonesia has a lot of volcanoes and some do erupt frequently – of note, Kelud, which had a spectacular eruption several months ago, is now back at normal).

The Karo District website has ongoing updates (Google-translated at the above link into English) and says today that Sinabung is on alert level III. Constant tremor is reported along with other seismic activity and there is a 1-km-high ashy plume.

The last of the residents outside the 3-km safety zone reportedly returned home by the 22nd. I don’t know if they were affected by the next eruption two days later.

Per the Twitterverse recently, this photo is from September 30th, per the Google translation of the accompanying article:


This next tweet has a link to an absolutely gorgeous close-up of the crater as it appeared yesterday, they say:



To catch up on some recent news, the volcano erupted on June 30th, per the Jakarta Post.

The Jakarta Post reported two weeks later that there had been an eruption over the July 12-13 weekend, with ash carried 10 km to the east, and that lava flows were increasing in Sinabung’s crater. Almost 10,500 people, the Post said on July 17th, were still in shelters after the earlier eruption.



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Categories: volcanoes

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