Indonesian volcano continues to eject lava and ash clouds

Indonesian volcano continues to eject lava and ash clouds

The volcanic eruption on unstable Mount Merapi continued Monday, with fresh lava and hot ash pouring down its slopes for the second day in a row.

Pyroclastic flows – avalanches of rocks, ash, and volcanic gases – gushed from the rising lava dome in the mountain’s crater.

The 2,968-meter (9,737-foot) mountain is on the island of Java near Yogyakarta, an ancient city home to hundreds of thousands of people and surrounded by suburbs. The city is also a Javanese cultural hub and the seat of centuries-old royal dynasties.

Merapi’s last major eruption, in 2010, killed 347 people. Villagers living on the fertile slopes of Merapi were advised to stay 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) from the crater.

Part of the lava dome began to collapse on Sunday, when the new eruption began, explained Hanik Humaida, director of the Yogyakarta Center for Geological Hazard Mitigation and Volcanology. The first eruption expelled hot ash that rose up to 1,000 meters (3,280 feet) into the atmosphere.

The mountain expelled at least three new pyroclastic flows on Monday, Humaida said.

Mount Merapi is the most volatile of the more than 120 active volcanoes in Indonesia, and has erupted several times with lava and gas clouds. It is one of the most active in the world, said the expert, with eruptions that usually last several days.

The Center for Geological Hazard Mitigation and Volcanology did not raise the alert level for Merapi, which was already at the second highest of four levels since it began to erupt last November.

Indonesia, an archipelago of 270 million people, is prone to earthquakes and volcanic activity because it is located in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an arc of seismic faults around the Pacific Ocean.

Melissa Galbraith
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