Mount Sinabung covers capital of Indonesia’s North Sumatra province in ash

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Indonesia's Mount Sinabung erupted on Sunday, July 3, 2016, covering Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, in ash. At least three eruptions were recorded on Sunday, with ash rising up to 1.5 km (4 900 feet). Lava flows were observed 1 km (0.62 miles) down the eastern and southeastern slopes of the volcano.

As reported by The Jakarta Globe, National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho said the ash started to affect parts of Medan at around 21:00 local time (14:00 UTC), causing low visibility for drivers and pedestrians.

"The volcanic ash resulted from an eruption of Mount Sinabung in Karo district, North Sumatra, at 18:29 WIB (11:29 UTC) on Sunday. The eruption was only minor, but the volcanic ash that was emitted rose to 1 500 meters and the wind subsequently blew it to the east and southeast," Sutopo said.

The BNPB recorded three eruptions, 10 landslides, 10 low-frequency earthquakes and two hybrid earthquakes at Mount Sinabung on Sunday.

On Monday, July 4, the Darwin VAAC reported satellites observed volcanic ash from Mount Sinabung reaching an altitude of about 4 km (13 000 feet) a.s.l., moving SSE.

Residents and visitors have been advised not to go within a 3-km radius of the crater. 

"Areas located in the red zone (close proximity) are very dangerous and need to be evacuated," Sutopo added.

On May 21, 2016, a series of large pyroclastic flows, of which at least one reached a distance of 4.5 km (2.79 miles), killed 7 people. The eruption ejected volcanic ash as high as 3 km (9 842 feet). The victims were farmers working in the village of Gamber, located within the exclusion zone, approximately 4 km (2.48 miles) from the volcano.

Sinabung roared back to life in August 2010. Since then, it claimed the lives of at least 25 people.

Geological summary

Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical, 2 460-m-high (8 070 feet) andesitic-to-dacitic volcano is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters.

An unconfirmed eruption was noted in 1881, and solfataric activity was seen at the summit and upper flanks in 1912.

No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August – September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km (16 404 feet) above the summit. (GVP)

Featured image: Mount Sinabung erupting on July 3, 2016. Image via La Culture Volcan

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