Lewotolo volcano erupts for the first time since 2012, Indonesia


After eight years of rest with little to no seismic activity, Indonesia's Lewotolo volcano (locally Ili Lewotolok) erupted late Thursday, November 26, 2020, sending an ash plume up to 500 m (1 640 feet) above the summit.

A continuing phase of large ash emissions with a small amount of steam and gas has been recorded by the volcanological survey of Indonesia (PVMBG) starting at 22:57 UTC on November 26 (05:57 LT on November 27).

The volcano spewed a dense gray-black ash plume 500 m (1 640 feet) above the summit, which drifted westward. The Alert Status remains at Level II.

The seismic station in the area registered increasing activity with 11 volcanic-tectonic earthquakes, including periods of high amplitude quake. 

In a bulletin issued Friday, the PVMBG said Lewotolo has the potential for subsequent eruptions, considering the current seismic and visual data.

"The eruption is still ongoing and continuously spews thick black smoke," the head of the agency noted.


Image credit: MAGMA Indonesia

The agency warned of potential hazards, including incandescent rocks and heavy ash rain within a radius of 2 km (1.2 miles) from the summit. Ash rain is likely to reach farther areas, depending on wind direction and speed.

PVMBG also warned of a potential avalanche of weathered material from the top of the volcano, as well as the spread of hazardous volcanic gases on the peak. Activities in the danger zone in the crater area has been prohibited. 

Authorities asked residents nearby to remain calm and follow orders from the regional and provincial government, as well as other relevant agencies for mitigation efforts.

Lewotolo's last eruption occurred in January 2012, when the volcano produced thick, white plumes that rose up to 250 m (820 feet) above the summit.

Since that episode, no further activity has been observed, except for several thermal anomalies from September to October 2015.

Geological summary

Anchoring the eastern end of an elongated peninsula that is connected to Lembata (formerly Lomblen) Island by a narrow isthmus and extends northward into the Flores Sea, Lewotolo rises to 1 423 m (4 668 feet).

Lewotolo is a symmetrical stratovolcano as viewed from the north and east. A small cone with a 130-m-wide (426 feet) crater constructed at the SE side of a larger crater forms the volcano's high point. Many lava flows have reached the coastline.

Historical eruptions, recorded since 1660, have consisted of explosive activity from the summit crater.

Featured image credit: MAGMA Indonesia

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