Eruption at Marapi volcano forces evacuation of 164 climbers, Indonesia

marapi volcano eruption january 7 2023

Indonesia’s Marapi volcano started erupting at around 23:00 UTC on January 6, 2023, resulting in a column of thick gray ash rising about 300 m (960 feet) above the peak or around 3.2 km (10 200 feet) a.s.l. The Aviation Color Code was raised to Orange. The Alert Level is at Level II (WASPADA) since August 3, 2011.

  • Over the next 2 days, more than 22 eruptions were recorded
  • This eruptive activity was preceded by an increase in deep volcanic earthquakes on December 25, 2022, as well as inflation at the peak station tiltmeter
  • The last eruption at this volcano took place in 2018 (VEI 2)

On January 8, the Indonesian National Search and Rescue Agency (Basarmas) evacuated 164 climbers from the area surrounding Mount Marapi, a volcano in Padang city, West Sumatra province.

The climbers had been caught in the midst of an eruption that began late January 6 (UTC) — the morning of January 7 local time.

Basarmas conducted the evacuation operation in coordination with local forces and community members.

On January 8, ash clouds produced by the eruptions were rising up to 3 km (10 000 feet) above sea level on January 8, increasing to 3.6 km (12 000 feet) on January 9, according to data provided by Darwin VAAC.

Based on the current Level II activity level, it is recommended that communities in the area and tourists/visitors refrain from conducting any activities or approaching the volcano within a 3 km (1.8 miles) radius of the crater/peak. This is due to the potential hazards of volcanic gases, which can be harmful to human life, emanating from the crater, the center of the eruption and source of gas releases.1

Authorities are urging the community surrounding the Marapi volcano to remain calm, coordinate with the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (PVMBG) and follow directions from the local regional government.

marapi warning map indonesia sumatra
Image credit: PVMBG

The last eruptive episode at this volcano lasted from April 28 to May 2, 2018 (VEI 2).

Geological summary

Gunung Marapi, not to be confused with the better-known Merapi volcano on Java, is Sumatra’s most active volcano. This massive complex stratovolcano rises 2 000 m (6 560 feet) above the Bukittinggi plain in the Padang Highlands.

A broad summit contains multiple partially overlapping summit craters constructed within the small 1.4 km (0.87 miles) wide Bancah caldera. The summit craters are located along an ENE-WSW line, with volcanism migrating to the west.

More than 50 eruptions, typically consisting of small-to-moderate explosive activity, have been recorded since the end of the 18th century; no lava flows outside the summit craters have been reported in historical time.2

References:

1 Marapi eruption press release by PVMBG released on January 7, 2023

2 Marapi – Geological summary – GVP

Featured image credit: PVMBG

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