Sumatran volcano erupts: first time since 1600

Mt. Sinabung in 1987 - photo from Wikimedia

Located at 3.17°N 98.392°E the volcano erupted suddenly and without warning. The Jakarta Post and Xinhua have photos of the eruption: Mount Sinabung erupts: (Tribun Medan/Dedy Sinuhaji)

Mount Sinabung erupts: (Tribun Medan/Dedy Sinuhaji) Mount Sinabung in North Sumatra erupted on Sunday at 00.15 a.m. Antara news agency reported local villagers did not expect the eruption as the geophysics and meteorology agency just declared a normal status for the mountain. Villagers fled home to a safer location, but no police officers yet helped the evacuation process. On Saturday, the 2,400 meter-high mountain showed its volcanic activity by spewing black clouds. ===========================

From Xinhua:

Villagers ride a motorcycle while covering their mouths at the district of Tanah Karo outside the city of Medan, North Sumatra, as the Mount Sinabung volcano spews smoke in the background August 28, 2010.  (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

Spokesman of National Disaster Management Agency Priyadi Kardono said the eruption has not been predicted much earlier like other volcanoes and authorities must conduct a quick preparation for emergency work as mount Sinabung’s seismic activity has been monitored intensively only since Friday after it showed an increase in activity.

Over 10,000 people have been internally evacuated after the eruption, Secretary of the provincial administration Edy Sofyan told Xinhua by phone.

Priyadi said that aid from Jakarta will be sent within days.

Mount Sinabung, whose last eruption occurred 400 years ago, is classified at category “B” which means it is not necessary to be monitored intensively, but other volcanoes in category “A,” must be monitored frequently, head of National Volcanology Agency named only Surono told Xinhua over phone from the province.


The near equatorial location is in a position to have a lot of ash swept into the ITCZ and will bear watching.

h/t to WUWT reader Daniel H
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August 28, 2010 11:04 pm

Any initial estimates on how much particulate is being spewed into the atmosphere?

Jimmy Haigh
August 28, 2010 11:16 pm

Sinabung’s only a stone’s throw from Toba…

Carl Chapman
August 28, 2010 11:20 pm

“Over 10,000 people have been internally evacuated after the eruption”, could be messy.

August 28, 2010 11:34 pm

When you say “without warning” in Indonesia, that is like saying with full notice to anyone paying attention. If there were a more irresponsible nation on earth regarding the scientific observation of natural calamity, they should make themselves known. This is the place where “foul” and “corruption” meet. For desert, after dining in Afghanistan.

Martin Brumby
August 28, 2010 11:38 pm

” the geophysics and meteorology agency just declared a normal status for the mountain.”
Surely, if the “experts” have already confirmed everything is hunky dory, why would we believe the lying eyes of these benighted and non peer-reviewed villagers?
Have they not been told the Science is Settled?

Grey Lensman
August 28, 2010 11:39 pm

This is actually on the northern flanks of Mount Toba, the worlds largest volcano and source of the worlds largest eruption.

August 28, 2010 11:55 pm

There is a known negative correlation between seismic activity and the 11-year solar cycle.

Daniel H
August 29, 2010 12:00 am

Thanks for the h/t Anthony. I feel honored!
It’s interesting that this eruption is now the number one most popular news story on CNN’s International Edition web site. They recently moved it to the top of the home page:
This is in sharp contrast with the US Edition home page where you would never know that this story exists. The only mention of a volcano in the US Edition is regarding the red alert on Colombia’s Mount Galeras stratovolcano:
Strange that!

Methow Ken
August 29, 2010 12:26 am

Toba, Yellowstone, Mammoth Lakes, Santorini, Tambora, Cumbre Vieja on La Palma, etcetera. Not to mention ”ordinary” volcanos near populated areas:
Just here in WA: Rainier, Baker, Adams, Glacier Peak, St. Helens.
Down the coast: Lassen and Shasta.
And of course Vesuvius, Iceland, etcetera; and many in the ring of fire around the Pacific basin, that are disposed toward explosive eruptions (as compared to the (usually) relatively benign eruptions of volcanos like Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea).
Geologic time is a very long horizon for we humans. But it’s only a question of when the next major eruption will occur, not if; that will throw who knows how many cubic km of material and gases into the atmosphere. . . .
Just think:
Even something as relatively ”small” as Tambora in 1815 (estimated to have ejected 100 times as much material as Mt St. Helens) would largely throw all the existing climate models out the window.

Methow Ken
August 29, 2010 12:29 am

FOOTNOTE to my last:
While I usually and in general take Wikipedia entries with a grain of salt, this one on the world’s largest explosive (and other) eruptions seems particularly well done. At least it certainly is very well referenced:

August 29, 2010 12:32 am

Here is yet another example of Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming at work. I’ll bet a 6-pack of Sierra Nevada Big-foot Ale that the CAGW-caused Russian heat wave or the CAGW-caused Bolivian deep freeze that triggered this eruption.

John Marshall
August 29, 2010 1:16 am

I told you I was only dormant. Though I am surprised that there were no signs of movement in the volcanic vent. Perhaps the local watchers were asleep when rumblings started.

August 29, 2010 1:23 am

The increasing volcanic activity was predicted by Czech astronomer Charvatova and it is related to the chaotic pattern of the solar system barycenter.
It is the Jovian cycles, stupid! as someone who knows said.

Ian E
August 29, 2010 1:24 am

I bet that the local CO2 levels have recently gone up – more proof positive of the link between CO2 levels and volcanic disasters! It’s an evil gas, I tell you.

August 29, 2010 1:30 am

Hope this isn’t a harbinger of more activity to come from Pacific Rim of Fire! Worrying that there was little or no notice of this eruption and that experts had “…just declared a normal status for the mountain.”
It would seem that despite our best efforts, the science of predicting volcanic activity still has a long way to go!

August 29, 2010 1:35 am

How long before someone blames this on CO2 emissions?

el gordo
August 29, 2010 1:36 am

Thinking back, Tallbloke predicted an eruption right about now.

Leon Brozyna
August 29, 2010 1:58 am

Since I’m not now speaking from the base of the volcano, I can safely say that this event looks very unimpressive, at least from the few photos I’ve been able to find. I wouldn’t even call it an eruption at this stage, more like a little venting. It’s sending ash and smoke a mere 1500 meters up, with most of the smoke seeming to hug the ground.
However, should it really pop its cork, then it’s situated to have the most impact on climate.

August 29, 2010 3:06 am

Weve also had 2 other eruptions this week – Mt Etna and Columbias Galero volcano

August 29, 2010 3:29 am

A new “Tambora” volcano? Strong La Nina this year. In Europe we are still waiting for Katla’s eruption. The next months will be very interesting.

August 29, 2010 3:31 am

You’re ahead of the pack with this one. 😉

August 29, 2010 5:07 am

This is near the tropics. If it’s as bad as Pinatubo, it will cool the whole globe.

Ian L. McQueen
August 29, 2010 5:21 am

How long until we learn that it was due to global warming?

Atomic Hairdryer
August 29, 2010 6:12 am

Infojunkies need data, now damnit! :p
Shame that Dr Klemetti is busy and ill and the Smithsonian/USGS pages only get updated once a week. And in a correlation hopefully not equalling causation kind of way, this isn’t prophetic:
“Another volcano anniversary falls this week – this time the 1883 eruption of Krakatau in Indonesia.”
From what I can find, so far Sinabung doesn’t appear to be doing that much, and hopefully it’ll stay that way.

Les Francis
August 29, 2010 6:16 am

Sinabung is not a dormant volcano – it’s classified as active. It has been emitting sulphur fumes for hundreds of years. It sits adjacent the Sumatran Fault.
Its situated close to Toba Caldera as well as very close to the Singkut Caldera. There are another couple of active cones only a few K’s away.
These are classified as B risk volcano’s in Indonesia. – There are plenty of A risk ones to look out for and the Indonesian Volcanic risk and geo thermal department has plenty of work on their hands and a limited budget to go around.
The B risk volcanos are listed as being active but quiet – at least not having an erutpion in the recent part of history.
Indonesia has the most active volcanos of any country. You can’t monitor them all.
The local people around Sinabung have there own dialects, calendar and written language. Local written history shows that there was an event such as the December 2004 back around 1880. Shortly after some of the local volcanos mentioned above showed activity. A few years after…… Krakatau.

August 29, 2010 9:13 am

Eduardo Ferreyra says:
August 29, 2010 at 1:23 am
Ivanka Charvatova´s paper:

Amino Acids in Meteorites
August 29, 2010 9:37 am

Just wait, someone is going to say it’s from global warming, “…all those extra tonnes of co2 in the atmosphere is pressing down on the earth ….causing earthquakes…”
Can’t you feel all those tonnes? 😉

Atomic Hairdryer
August 29, 2010 9:58 am

re Les Francis

These are classified as B risk volcano’s in Indonesia. – There are plenty of A risk ones to look out for and the Indonesian Volcanic risk and geo thermal department has plenty of work on their hands and a limited budget to go around

Given volcano’s potential role in climate change, do you know if funding has impoved for research and monitoring?

Ulric Lyons
August 29, 2010 10:13 am

@ el gordo says:
August 29, 2010 at 1:36 am
“Thinking back, Tallbloke predicted an eruption right about now.”
Did he too?

Ulric Lyons
August 29, 2010 11:21 am

I have mentioned on previous threads that there are 179yr `strings` of volcanic events within similar locations, and had said that the Philippines could be a hot spot this Autumn (re 1831);

August 29, 2010 11:39 am

So then, all of this is caused by COMGWAGDAGW?
Another day, another volcano. Sounds about right …

el gordo
August 29, 2010 3:25 pm

Ulric Lyons says: ‘I have mentioned on previous threads that there are 179yr `strings` of volcanic events within similar locations…’
Looking elsewhere (Climate Research News) it seems ‘the precessional rotation parameter is linked with the 179-yr cycle of the solar inertial motion previously identified by Jose (1965). A new prolonged minimum of solar activity may be imminent.’
There appears to be a very big story lurking here, but I can’t quite get my head around it.

August 29, 2010 8:16 pm

Looks like another eruption, this time to at least 20,000 feet. See in comments
Dr. Erik Klemetti speculates that this activity is a precursor to a larger eruption.
Forget CO2, all we need is more ozone destruction, as if jet planes-space shuttles-spacecraft launches hadn’t done enough damage. That’s why we roast on moderate solar cycle max’s now, imho.
volcanic bromide bromine gas destroys ozone – Google Search
Volcanoes affect atmospheric ozone, our friend and foe
Volcanic Gases and Their Effects
Volcanic Sulfur Aerosols Affect Climate and the Earth’s Ozone Layer

August 29, 2010 8:30 pm

Boris Behncke predicted this uptick/reactivation of Etna about 5 months ago. He was reading the seismic activity.
In any case there are no signs that at Etna a major destructive eruption is imminent (that would mean, a flank eruption from low elevation). What I consider the most likely scenario is that in the next few weeks to months we will see a gradual reactivation of the summit craters, and then for some time – which may be months to years – summit eruptions, which are the most beautiful thing one can imagine, and they are not a threat to populated areas and human property. They might occasionally disrupt air traffic, because they can release significant quantities of ash.
Then, as more magma usually rises into the volcano’s feeder system than exits from its summit craters, the mountain will gradually swell and become more unstable, and this will be recognized by the seismic activity and by the deformation monitoring, as well as gas emissions. In case of a major flank eruption – especially one from low on the flanks – there will possibly many weeks of premonitory deformation and seismicity, as was the case before the last eruption of this kind, in 1669.
The worst scenario we’re imagining is a flank eruption that develops extremely fast and emits lava at very high rates, as in 1981, when lava initially traveled at a speed of 3 km per hour – and the nearest population centers were 7 km away. Luckily in that case the lava passed between two villages. That was on the sparsely populated northwest side of Etna, near the town of Randazzo. An eruption of this type on the very densely populated southeast side would be an enormous challenge.
Funny anyway how I just posted that big Etna story one week ago and now the volcano is getting a bit more active.
I will keep you informed …
Posted by: Boris Behncke, Catania, Italy
b | August 26, 2010 3:27 PM

August 30, 2010 7:17 am

Twenty-one years ago I would have said something else, today I can only say: “The Chinese did it!”
PS: Have you noticed? The Chinese are doing everything bad these days. Well, blaming the old USSR was getting to be rather stale wasn’t it?

September 2, 2010 8:04 am

Eduardo, another Czech, Jaroslav Strestik, published a paper in 2003 showing a correlation of volcanic activity and longer term solar cycles (80 and 200 year cycles.)

Keith Minto
September 2, 2010 11:49 pm

Sinabung still erupting, this from ABC news just in, .

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