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Volcano Case Study Mt Merapi 2010

Location

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Mount Merapi is located in South East Asia in the country of Indonesia.  It is North of Yogyakarta and West of Solo on the island of Java.  It is 1,700m high and has been erupting regularly since the 1500s.

Causes

Image courtesy of boston.com

The volcano and its eruptions were caused by the Indo-Australian Plate being subducted beneath the Eurasian Plate.  The volcano is located on a destructive plate margin at a subduction zone and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Effects

Primary (caused directly by the volcano)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

Volcanic bombs and hot gases of up to 800°C spread over 11km awayVegetable prices increased because of the damage to crops
Pyroclastic flows spread 3km down the mountainEmergency shelters had to be moved over 15km away
Ash fell up to 30km away and 5km into the sky.  15km away, villages were under 30cm of ashDanger area extended to 20km from the mountain and 278,000 people living in this area had to flee their homes
Sulphur Dioxide was blown across Indonesia and as far South as AustraliaPlanes were grounded in Western Australia because of the risk of damage to aircraft from the ash cloud
Ash, rock and lava deposited on the sides of the volcano is still being washed down into towns by rainfall creating lahar (a mudflow that often flows along river valleys)

Impacts

Positive

Negative

Ash from the volcano will eventually lead to more fertile soils in the area273 people were killed and 577 people were injured
A conservation area has been set up around the volcano where it is unsafe to liveThe evacuation centres were overcrowded leading to poor sanitation, no privacy and serious disease risk
People, particularly farmers, lost their homes and livelihoods
360,000 people were displaced from their homes

Responses

Short Term

Long Term

210 evacuation centres were set up either as tents, in schools, churches, stadiums or government officesFormal evacuation centres were eventually set up because buildings, such as schools and government offices, were needed for their official uses
1,600 people, either volunteers or military, were part of the national aid response2,682 people have had to be moved to new, safer houses permanently
International aid was offered from organisations such as the Red CrossThe government is making money available to farmers to help replace their livestock
The government has set up a special task force to support people that have been affected by the volcano either by family issues, or because they have lost their jobs

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What is Merapi?
Mt Merapi is a volcano located on the island of Java in Indonesia. Mount Merapi or 'mountain of fire' is part of the ring of fire. Mount Merapi has erupted 68 times since the sixteenth century and is the most active vocano in its region. It is one of 129 active volcanoes in Indonesia making up part of the Pacific Ring of Fire. It is located on the subduction zone of the Indo-Australian and Eurasian plates. It is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia and has been erupting frequently since 1548. Since 1920 there have been 10 eruptions that have caused human fatalities. Typically, smoke can be seen emerging from the top of the volcano 300 days in the year.

What type of volcano is Merapi?
Mt Merapi is 9551ft tall and is an active composite volcano and has andesitic lava. It is cone-shaped with a narrow base and steep sides, which are made of alternate layers of lava and ash from previous eruptions. When eruptions occur they are usually violent and lava and ash are present. Until about 10,000 years ago eruptions have been effusive and lava was basaltic. However, now the eruptions have become much more explosive and often generate lava domes. The collapse of these domes have often caused pyroclastic flows and longer explosions.

When did Merapi erupt?
Between 25th-26th October 2010 Mt Merapi erupted three times; thousands were evacuated from a 20km radius around the slopes of the volcano. The column of smoke rose vertically to 1.5km and pyroclastic activity began to subside, 18 people were found dead. The deaths were due to burns and respiratory problems. Between 17th-29th October 2010 the evacuation zone remained however, lava ejection with hot ash clouds fell down the slope and travelled 3km and pressure seemed to be decreasing behind the lava dome that had formed in the crater. The death toll was now at 30. From the 30th October onwards Mount Merapi exploded again, this time causing a fire ball to rise 2km vertically into the air from the volcano. The magma continued to push its way into the lava dome and ash fell more than 30km away. This all caused raining sand to fall 10km away.

How big was the eruption?
The 2010 eruption was 4 on the volcanic explosivity index (VEI). This is slightly larger than the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull.

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What was the impact of the eruption? (social / economic / environmental - primary and secondary effects)

Negative Social Impacts
200,000 people were made homeless by the eruption and 320,000 people were displaced. Emergency shelters had to be moved over 15km away. The danger area was extended to 20km from the mountain and 278,000 people living in the area had to flee their homes. Evacuation centers were overcrowded leading to poor sanitation, no privacy and serious disease risk. Many farmers lost their livelihoods.Lava flows closed many roads and others were closed off for safety reasons.
353 people killed from the main eruption and the smaller ones that followed.
5000 people killed due to the earthquake that occurred 50km South West of Mt Merapi.

Positive Social Impacts
The volcano brings jobs in the form of the tourism industry. Medical use of hot spa water and mud can improve health.


Negative Economic Impacts
Vegetable prices increased because of damage to crops. Planes were grounded in Western Australia because of the risk of damage to aircraft from the ash cloud.Lava flows damaged skii lifts.

Positive Economic Impacts
The eruption brought volcanic tourism although eruptions can cause tourists to cancel visits. Mineral mining increased.

Negative Environmental Impacts
Ash, rock and lava deposited on the sides of the volcano was washed down into towns by rainfall creating a lahar. Sulphur dioxide was blown across Indonesia as far South as Australia.
Ash from the volcano eventually led to more fertile soils in the area.Water contaminated with acidic lava and ash.

Positive Environmental Impacts
A conservation area has been set up around the volcano where it is unsafe to live.
Geothermal energy is a renewable source of energy using steam from hot rocks near the surface.
Breathing difficulties from contaminated air (ash and acidic fumes). Global cooling followed slightly as the ash spread through the upper atmosphere.


Responses

Short Term
210 evacuation centers were set up either as tents, in schools, churches, stadiums or government offices. 1600 people, either volunteers or military were part of the national aid response.
International aid was offered from organizations such as the Red Cross.

Long Term
Formal evacuation centers were eventually set up because building such as schools and government offices were needed for their official uses. 2682 people had be moved to new safer houses permanently. The government is making money available to farmers to help replace their livestock. The government has set up a special task force to support people that have been affected by the volcano either by family issues, or because they have lost their jobs.

Predicition systems
The monitoring of Mt Merapi began in 1942 using Seismometers. Some of these volcano monitoring stations are still around today. The monitoring systems have been updated as technology and scientific understanding has progressed. During the 1950s and early 1960s many of the stations were deprived of equipment sue to lack of funds, yet by the 1970s considerable improvement occurred with the supply of new equipment. Other measurements on the volcano are magnetic measurements and tilt measurements. Small changes in local magnetic fields have been found to coincide with eruptions and tilt measurements show the inflation of the volcano as magma rises.

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