Deformation and seismic precursors to dome-collapse and fountain-collapse nuees ardentes at Merapi Volcano, Java, Indonesia, 1994-1998

Publication type

Journal Article

Research Area



Following the eruption of January 1992, episodes of lava dome growth accompanied by generation of dome-collapse nuees ardentes occurred in 1991-1998. In addition, nuees ardentes were generated by fountain-collapse in January 1997, and the 1998 events also suggest an explosive component. Significant tilt and seismic precursors on varying time scales preceded these events. Deformation about the summit has been detected by electronic tiltmeters since November 1992, with inflation corresponding generally to lava dome growth, and deflation (or decreased inflation) corresponding to loss of dome mass. Strong short-term (days to weeks) accelerations in tilt rate and seismicity occurred prior to the major nuees ardentes episodes, apart from those of 22 November 1993 which were preceded by steadily increasing tilt fur over 200 days but lacked short-term precursors. Because of the combination of populated hazardous areas and the lack of an issued warning, about 100 casualties occurred in 1994. In contrast, the strong precursors in 1997 and 1998 provided advance warning to observatory scientists, enabled the stepped raising of alert levels, and aided hazard management. As a result of these factors, but also the fortunate fact that the large nuees ardentes did not quite descend into populated areas, no casualties occurred. The nuee ardente episode of 1993 is interpreted as purely due to gravitational collapse, whereas those of 1997 and 1998 were influenced by gas-pressurization of the lava dome. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.

Publication Details


Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research





Date Published


Access Date



ISBN Number


Subscribe to the EOS Newsletter

Stay in touch with the latest news, events, research, and publications from the Earth Observatory of Singapore.

Email is required

Email is wrong format

You Can Make a Difference

Partner with us to make an impact and create safer, more sustainable societies throughout Southeast Asia.
Make A Gift