Is Mount Sinabung's Behaviour Changing?

13 Jun 2016

Author: Fidel COSTA

Sinabung volcano in Sumatra, Indonesia, has been almost continuously erupting in the last three years. It has been on the highest alert level since 2013. 

Most of the eruptions on Mount Sinabung have been small. These eruptions vary between lava flows and dome extrusions that accumulate on the volcanic crater, and include explosions with ash plumes that are lower than 3 kilometres (km) in height.

The most common activity on the volcano are the pyroclastic flows that are generated by the gravitational collapse of the dome rocks that have gathered on the summit. The travel distance of these pyroclastic flows range from 2 km to 5 km. As such, since 2014, the exclusion zones were appropriately implemented up to 7 km of the south (S) sector and 6 km southeast-east (SE-E) of the sector.

Unfortunately, on 21 May 2016, pyroclastic flows descended the southeast-eastern (SE-E) flanks that killed six people and critically injured three more. The victims were, at the time, gardening in the village of Gamber, which is located 4 km southeast of the summit crater within the restricted zone. 

There were four pulses of dome collapse and pyroclastic flows that had been reported that day:

1. 14:28 LT (Seismic signal duration: 1126s)

2. 15:08 LT (Seismic signal duration: 5420s)

3. 16:39 LT (Seismic signal duration: 315s)

4. 16:48 LT (Seismic signal duration: 825s) —> *Travel distance 4.5km (E-SE), speed > 100km/hr, PF estimated travel distance < 3="">

Pyroclastic flow on 21 May 2016 at 1648 hours. Image credit: CVGHM

The eruption style, size, and other monitored data are not different from previous ones. Therefore, this event does not indicate a change in the volcano’s behaviour.

For more information on Sinabung volcano, please click here.


Information source: BNPB and CVGHM.

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