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Alert level for Awu volcano raised to 3, North Sulawesi, Indonesia

awu volcano may 11 2022

The Volcanic Alert Level for Awu volcano, located in North Sulawesi, Indonesia, was raised from Level 2 to 3 on May 11, 2022, after earthquake energy values ​​showed a drastic increase on May 9 and 10. The last eruption of this volcano took place in June 2004 (VEI 2). Powerful explosive eruptions in 1711, 1812, 1856, 1892, and 1966 produced devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused more than 8 000 cumulative fatalities.

On May 9, 2022, there was a significant increase in the number of volcanic earthquakes, with 88 shallow and 147 deep volcanic earthquakes. On May 10, 2022, the increase in the number of volcanic earthquakes became more significant, with 90 shallow and 203 deep.

White crater smoke was observed as high as 30 m (98 feet) above the crater at 15:00 LT on May 11.

The characteristics of the eruption of Mount Awu can be explosive, effusive, or phreatomagmatic. Its last eruption in June 2004 created a lava dome in its crater which has a diameter of about 370 m (1 213 feet) and a height of about 30 m (98 feet).

lava dome awu volcano indonesia 2004
A newly formed, steaming lava dome occupies the summit crater of Awu volcano. Following increased seismicity, a small lava dome was noted on June 2, 2004. Explosive eruptions took place beginning on June 6, the largest of which, on June 10, produced an ash plume 3 km (9 840 feet) high. By June 14, the dome was 250 x 300 m wide and 40 m high (820 x 984 x 131 feet). Image credit: A. Solihin, 2004 (Centre of Volcanology & Geological Hazard Mitigation, Volcanological Survey of Indonesia).

The potential hazard of Mount Awu that may occur is in the form of a magmatic eruption resulting in the ejection of incandescent material and/or pyroclastic flows, as well as a phreatic eruption dominated by steam, volcanic gas and material from previous eruptions.

great sangihe island north sulawesi indonesia april 18 2022
Awu volcano, Sangihe Island, Indonesia on April 18, 2022. Credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, The Watchers
great sangihe island north sulawesi indonesia april 18 2022
Awu volcano, Sangihe Island, Indonesia on April 18, 2022. Credit: Copernicus EU/Sentinel-2, The Watchers

The potential for the destruction of the lava dome can occur if the pressure in the magmatic system increases significantly.

Another potential hazard is the emission of volcanic gases such as CO, CO2, H2S, N2 and CH4. These gases can be life-threatening if the inhaled concentration exceeds the safe threshold value.

With the volcano at Level 3, the public and visitors/tourists should not approach and move within a 3.5 km (2.1 miles) radius from the crater of the summit of Mount Awu. 

The community around Mount Awu is urged to remain calm and follow the directions of the local Regional Disaster Management Agency.

The activity level of Mount Awu was on Level 1 since October 31, 2016, then on December 12, 2021 it was raised to Level II (WASPADA) due to the increase in the number of volcanic earthquakes.

Geological summary

The massive Gunung Awu stratovolcano occupies the northern end of Great Sangihe Island, the largest of the Sangihe arc.

Deep valleys that form passageways for lahars dissect the flanks of the volcano, which was constructed within a 4.5 km (2.8 miles) wide caldera.

Powerful explosive eruptions in 1711, 1812, 1856, 1892, and 1966 produced devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused more than 8 000 cumulative fatalities.

Awu contained a summit crater lake that was 1 km (0.6 miles) wide and 172 m (564 feet) deep in 1922, but was largely ejected during the 1966 eruption.2

References:

1 Press Release Peningkatan Aktivitas G. Awu – Sulawesi Utara – PVMBG – May 12, 2022

2 Awu – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: PVMBG

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