According to local news and reports from the BPBD in Indonesia evacuation is taking place of three villages close to the volcano. So far 1 200 people have been evacuated using military trucks. Furthermore 2 000 masks have been distributed to those who are waiting to be evacuated to help protect them against the heavy sulphur fumes.
The alert level has been raised to the highest on a four grade scale and local authorities are waiting for new instructions from the PVMBG in regards of more widespread evacuation around the volcano. The current recommendation from the PVMBG is that all of the population should be evacuated in a zone 3 kilometers from the crater.
The level of unrest has increased during the last month forcing the PVMBG to raise the alert level twice from level 2. Level four means that an eruption is imminent, or that eruption has started.
The volcano is situated on a narrow isthmus on the island of Flores. The volcano is not one of the more visually impressive and is only 1 703 meters high.
Before eruptive behavior started on the 29th of January in 2004 it is believed that the volcano had been dormant during recorded history. Even if there have been reports of previous eruptions it is now believed that it was just vigorous fumarolic activity in the crater and that no true eruptions have occurred.
Between 2004 and 2008 four minor eruptions have occurred ranging from VEI-1 to VEI-2.
After reading through the weekly bulletins on the Global Volcanism Program website it seems a bit unclear if the reported eruptions was caused by lava emission or if they where instead phreatic detonations. If it was phreatic detonations it is likely that it was caused by intrusion of fresh magma from depth and that this was onset of a “throat clearing” phase of the volcanic system and that a larger eruption could follow with time.
It is therefore hard to predict what will happen now. It could be yet another bout of phreatic detonations, or a full scale eruption could take place. There is also little or no historic record of how this volcano behaves during a full eruption, at least in the English language.
Request for links
Volcanocafé has always been a great source for links and information prior to and during eruptions. We therefore kindly ask for links to webcameras, seismometers, gps-stations and to scientific papers on the volcano. All news would also be highly appreciated.
All pertinent links and news will be collected and added to this article.