21st December 2001 - 10.15 GMT
 
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Java 93

After the "Riskant !" show I had some cash to spend, so I thought it would be a good oportunity to have some fun with my girl friend.

Mount Merapi,

a 2,911-meter-tall volcano on the island of Java in Indonesia

(Written in Dec 2001, eight years after the trip) Our arrival in Java had no ambitious background at all; we were on our way to the beaches of Bali and or flight ended in Yakkarta. So we wanted to take advantage of our transfer and get some impressions of Java itself. Java, Sumatra, Bali, all these are places loaded with wild imagination of far east, jungle, pirates and more recently environment issues. But arriving in Java at Yakkarta airport is just as annoying as arriving in any Mega city. You really want to leave this place as soon as possible. Yakkarta is just too much. That's what we did, we headed for Yogyakkarta to see the famous temple of Bobabadur and PanamXXX. But once there, a dominant volcano catched my eye, Mount Merapi !

Mount Merapi,

near the summit

We stayed in a hotel, where the manager was well know as an expert in Merapi climbing. Indeed, the dinning room was packed with Merapi related stuff. Maps, pictures and articles about the last eruption etc and 8 of 10 guests were staying just for the climb. As promised, in the evening we received an one-hour briefing about the trek and already got a bit nervous. Several issues had to be considered: * Don't get lost at night in the forest * Reach the tree limit before sunrise and wait there * Always look for flying debris * Don't walk further then the "big boulder" * Descent before 10 am, because clouds will rise from the valley and one may not find the entrance into the forest again To watch sunset from the summit, we had to leave around 1am and so our group had their late supper at midnight. To be honest, it was very exciting ! We left around 1 am and entered the forest with our torches, very careful not to get lost, which in fact can happen on several occasions. Once on the trail, there are no more problems with orientation, and only performance counts. The trail is mainly in gullies and dried creeks, vegetation everywhere. Around half way there is the only opportunity to rest, the bomb monument. We reached the tree limit a bit ahead of time and stayed in the forest, protecting ourselves from the cold. And then came the sun... what a majestic view, the plains, the clouds and the volcanoes in the distance.... In the briefing everything was so clear, "just head for the big boulder". But there were boulders everywhere. And everywhere toilet paper was flapping in the wind, left behind from other climbers. Intended to mark your way up, as you can find more easily your way down its just plain confusing. So everyone went up on his own on the 45 slope, careful with every step because the ground has razor sharp edges. Once I catched my breath near a sulphur fumarol, I was very very close to vomit. It's really horrible and by the way toxic too.

Mount Merapi,

summit !

On my quest for the "big boulder" I finally reached the summit without knowing it. There is some scientific equipment at the top and a very impressing view down in the crater. On the way down I almost missed the entrance into the forest. Be very careful here and don't loose the entrance out of sight, because the forest is very dense and you might not get down at all. Around early afternoon I reached the hotel. I was so broken and exhausted, that I couldn't leave bed for two days.

Borobadur Temple

Borobudur Temple

Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temples

Eruption of Gunong Merapi, Indonesia

November 25, 1994

Source: volcano.und.nodak.edu
Mount Merapi, a 2,911-meter-tall volcano on the island of Java in Indonesia, erupted on November 22 at about 10:15 a.m. local time. Inconsistent news reports on the number of casualties suggest that at least 34 people were killed, several hundred were injured, and hundreds of homes were destroyed. The eruption began with steam explosions and ejection of rocks and gravel over the surface of the cone. The steam plume reached about 800 meters high. After 25 minutes of such activity, the main eruption began and sent an ash column roughly 10 kilometers high. An advisory was issued to warn aircraft from entering the ash plume and being subject to engine damage and endangering the lives of those onboard. Ash fallout was heavy as far as 45 kilometers to the northwest of Mount Merapi.

On the ground, a pyroclastic flow of hot ash, gas, and other suspended particles swept 6 kilometers to the southwest down the Boyong River drainage and through Turgo Village in the Yogyakarta District. Many of the injured suffered severe burns from the hot gases. Most of the casualties appear to be in two small villages. More than 6,000 people have been evacuated from the area.

Mount Merapi has a history of violent eruptions that led to its designation as one of the "Decade Volcanoes." These volcanoes have been identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth's Interior as requiring special study because of the danger they pose to populated regions. Mount Merapi's last large ash eruption occurred in 1984. A particularly devastating eruption took place in 1930, when 1,300 were killed by an eruption here. Another eruption, in 1976, killed 28 people and destroyed homes of 1,176 people. Today, 50,000 people live on the southwest flank of the volcano, and the city of Yogyakarta is only 35 kilometers away. Since 1984, Mount Merapi had erupted repeatedly as glowing avalanches flowed from a growing lava dome, much like the dome inside Mount St. Helens in Washington State. These glowing avalanches, or nuee ardentes, moved down a different river drainage towards the west.

Mount Merapi is monitored by the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia, which mans seven volcano observatory stations on the mountain. One of these stations had to be abandoned because of the eruption. Starting in 1981, scientists from the Branch of Volcanic and Geothermal Processes of the United States Geological Survey helped train scientists and technicians of the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia. A succession of USGS staff spent several years in Indonesia assisting with equipment installation and training. In more recent times, several members of the current staff of the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia have been trained during the summer program at the Center for the Study of Active Volcanoes (CSAV) at the University of Hawaii at Hilo. This summer program is specifically aimed at training scientists from less-developed nations in the techniques employed to monitor active volcanoes.

Each eruption teaches us more about how to identify eruptions before they occur so that people can be evacuated to safe ground. In the case of Merapi, we have learned that a volcano that has been active in one area does not always continue to erupt in the same area. The dome on the west flank of Merapi has erupted episodically since 1984, but it was not the location of the current eruption. This lesson can be translated closer to home with the ongoing eruption of Kilauea. Kilauea's eruption has been located within a confined area along the east rift zone near Pu'u 'O'o for nearly 12 years. When changes occur, such as a pause in activity, we expect the activity to return to the same area. However, for the eruption near Pu'u 'O'o to end, it is likely that a different eruption will occur along the southwest rift or at lower elevation along the east rift zone. Like the change in activity at Merapi, such a shift in the location of the eruption here will be difficult to forecast because of the ongoing activity. However, indications of such a change should be seen within the few hours preceding the outbreak of a new eruption.



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