Lava dome lurks in Indonesian volcano

Today on Nature:
Researchers uncertain whether explosive eruption will follow.
by David Cyranoski
"As an active volcano in Indonesia continues to rumble, scientists are keeping a keen eye on a dome of lava that is rising out of a lake in the volcano’s crater, hoping that worse is not to come.
Indonesia has 129 active volcanoes, and Mount Kelut, on eastern Java, is one of the 66 with modern monitoring equipment. Since mid-October, tiltmeters on Mount Kelut have been registering deformation of the land, and seismometers have been recording tremors caused by magmatic activity. The temperature of the 2.5 million cubic metres of water in Kelut’s crater lake had also been rising, indicating that gas or magma was coming to the surface. The activity forced officials to raise disaster warnings to the highest level on 16 October and call for evacuations; an estimated 130,000 residents live within a 10-kilometre radius of the volcano. Since then there has been smoke and further activity, but no explosive eruption.
The volcano has been deadly in the past. In 1919, an eruption killed some 5,000 people, mostly through muddy landslides as water from the volcano’s crater lake spilled over the sides. “The water can travel at car speeds, 50 or 60 kilometres per hour, creating a mud flow that brings rocks of 2 or 3 metres in diameter with it,” says Masato Iguchi, a volcanologist at Kyoto University in Japan who has studied Indonesian volcanoes. The government has since built a 1.9-kilometre-long tunnel to help drain the volcanic lake to safer levels, carrying water to a local river. (...)"
Full article: Nature.com

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