Mount Agung, a massive volcano in Bali, is erupting for the first time in over 50 years, causing chaos on the Indonesian island. Learn more here.
1. Mount Agung first erupted on Saturday, November 25: the first eruption came at 5:30pm local time, and has happened two times since. Authorities in Bali warn that a massive eruption, spilling lava over the sides of the volcano, could be on the way. Authorities have been warning that there was increased seismic activity in the volcano for two months, as magma moved deep from within the earth to the top of the crater. Last week, steam rose from the volcano, something typical from the seismicity, as the earth shook in the surrounding area. The volcano is now spitting out plumes of smoke and ash over five miles into the sky, and eyewitnesses can see lava glowing at the surface of the crater. The seismicity has caused rivers of cold mud with the consistency of wet concrete to flow down the sides of the mountain into river valleys below.
2. Why the eruption is happening: the seismic activity is pushing the magma toward the surface, and it’s building rock as it moves. As the magma moves, the water inside the volcano heats up and starts steaming. The steam builds up so much pressure that the rock can’t contain it. Agung is now blasting rocks, glass, and crystals into the air, forming what we can see as ash. Since the plumes of steam and ash are flowing straight into the air, unaffected by wind, it means velocity is very high. If the pressure gets any higher, and another eruption occurs, the magma could push past the surface of the crater and become lava, racing down the sides of the mountain to the ground below. That’s when people need to be worried.
3. Authorities have issued the highest alert level possible for the eruption: the National Agency for Disaster Management has issued a Level 4 alert for Bali, warning that a massive eruption could occur. They’ve advised that nobody should go within 8 to 10 kilometers from the volcano, trying to deter curious tourists from getting too close to get a selfie — and perishing.
4. Bali has evacuated 29,000 people: anyone within the 8 to 10 kilometer area in Bali has been evacuated by the government — tens of thousands of people, according to theBali Provincial Board for Disaster Relief. This follows a similar evacuation in September, when the seismic activity first occurred. However, officials are now warning that people could be seriously harmed by the massive eruption they feel is on the way. Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation has also raised its aviation alert notice to Red, the highest level, causing Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali to shut down for 24 hours, starting the morning of Monday, November 27. The shutdown has reportedly stranded about 59,000 people in Bali.
“While the sun is shining and there is little sign of volcanic ash in the southern regions of Bali, evidence of volcanic ash at higher altitudes on aviation approach and departure paths has prompted the decision to close the airport,” Bali Tourism Board Chairman Ida Bagus Agung Partha Adnyana said in a statement. Officials are especially concerned about the mudflow raging down river banks. They’re warning people to stay away from rivers, where rapidly-moving, thick mud is tearing down trees and dislodging boulders. “The pyroclastic material of (the) Mount Agung eruption will continue to grow. The rain will increase during the rainy season. Potential lava floods will increase. Do not do (engage in) activities around the river,” Adnyana said on his official Twitter.
5: This is Mount Agung’s first eruption in 50 years: the last time Mount Agung erupted was in 1963, when the plumes of ash launched 16 kilometers into the air. The evacuation zone was created based on what happened during the massive eruption, when more than 1700 people were killed, and villages were destroyed.
HollywoodLifers, we’ll be following the situation in Bali, and provide updates as more information becomes available.