Sinabung

Sinabung-Volcano-map

Location: North Sumatra, Indonesia

Elevation: 2460m

Gunung Sinabung is a Pleistocene-to-Holocene stratovolcano with many lava flows on its flanks. The migration of summit vents along a N-S line gives the summit crater complex an elongated form. The youngest crater of this conical, 2460-m-high andesitic-to-dacitic volcano is at the southern end of the four overlapping summit craters. No confirmed historical eruptions were recorded prior to explosive eruptions during August-September 2010 that produced ash plumes to 5 km above the summit. In 2013 the Volcano started to erupt again. On 31st December troughout January 2014 it produced pyroclastic flows that reached lengths of up to 5.5km.

Read more in depth information about Sinabung volcano at: The Smithsonian’s Global Volcanism Program 

11-13th January 2014.

Photos:36 available in format/size: RAW/JPG – 5472 x 3648 pixels. 500+ photos and some video footage not presented on the webpage.

Summary of Visit:

 

Had the opportunity to observe Sinabung in the period between 11th to 13th January 2014. Prior to my visit news reports had reported eruptive activity and pyroclastic flows since 31st December 2013.

On arrival in the area I positioned myself 5,7 km SW of the volcano, looking at the S/SW flank of the volcano that have been  impacted by the recent pyroclastic flows. I was approximately standing 2-3km West from this flank, a few fairly deep gorges separated me with the volcano, so I considered it a relatively safe location at the time being.  During other times I photographed from 10km S/SW. The nearest town in the area is called Brestagi.

The flank that have been impacted by the pyroclastic flows, used to be farming land according to the locals, but are now heavily covered in white-grey colored debris. According to news-sources, the pyroclastic flows have reached lengths up to 7km (as of 15Jan.). A few villages in close proximity of the trail of the pyroclastic flows and villages heavily burdened by ash-fall have been evacuated. A total of more than 20.000 people (as of 15Jan.). It seems to me that the authorities are relying that the pyroclastic flows will descend down the same flank as they have up until now (as of 15jan), and not find other flanks to travel on. Logically the lava-dome could spill down other flanks of the volcano, something that could become a dangerous situation for people living and working in fields, in these areas.

I observed many pyroclastic flows during the period i stayed in the area, all followed the same flank down to its base, or dispersed before reaching it. During nighttime the flank were illuminated by hot pyroclastic debris (see photo 11 to 15.) and other material burned by the heat of the pyroclastic debris. At the time a new pyroclastic flow was initiated from the crater, the crater started to glow a few seconds before the sounds of rock-fall become evident. Judging from photography’s from the period I visited, it seems that the pyroclastic flows that I observed, were set off by partial-collapses of the growing lava-dome, and not by the collapse of an eruption plume. In fact I did only observe some ash-venting from the crater itself, most of the plumes originating from the crater, seemed to be mostly consisting of gas. Ash-fall in the areas impacted by the volcano at the period I visited, therefore, I figure was mostly or only caused by, ash produced by the pyroclastic flows. Because of the fact that the volcano peak was mostly covered in clouds during the visit, I was only able to photograph the growing lava dome (or parts of it) once.

1.  Setup in a field SSW of Sinabung. (11th January - 18:49 local time)1. Setup in a field SSW of Sinabung. (11th January – 18:49 local time)

2. Flank that has been impacted by the recent pyroclastic flows. (11th January - 18:54)
2. Flank that has been impacted by the recent pyroclastic flows. (11th January – 18:54)
3. Pyroclastic flow working its way down. (11th January -19:08)
3. Pyroclastic flow working its way down. (11th January -19:08)
4. A pyroclastic flow emerges from under the cloudes. (11th January - 19:27 local time)
4. A pyroclastic flow emerges from under the cloudes. (11th January – 19:27 local time)
5.Reaching the base of the mountain, ash material drifting NW. (11th January - 19:29)
5.Reaching the base of the mountain, ash material drifting NW. (11th January – 19:29)
6.Close up on pyroclastic debris (right after it dispersed at base of the mountain) (12th January - 03:38)
6.Close up on pyroclastic debris (right after it dispersed at base of the mountain) (12th January – 03:38)
7.A larger pyroclastic flow travel down the flanks. Crater glow can also be seen in the photo, and was visible during the initiation of the flow. (12th January - 04:15)
7.A larger pyroclastic flow travel down the flanks. Crater glow can also be seen in the photo, and was visible during the initiation of the flow. (12th January – 04:15)
8. The pyroclastic flow travels to the foot of the volcano and releases a heavy load of ash.(12th January - 04:19)
8. The pyroclastic flow travels to the foot of the volcano and releases a heavy load of ash.(12th January – 04:19)
9. The ash cloud produced by the pyroclastic flow is dispersed S/SW of the volcano. (12th January - 04:28)
9. The ash cloud produced by the pyroclastic flow is dispersed S/SW of the volcano. (12th January – 04:28)
10. Glowing debris of the pyroclastic flow that started at 04:14. (12th January - 04:37)
10. Glowing debris of the pyroclastic flow that started at 04:14. (12th January – 04:37)
11. (12th January - 04:50)
11. (12th January – 04:50)
12. (12th January - 05:01)
12. (12th January – 05:01)
13. Close up on another pyroclastic flow. (12th January - 05:11)
13. Close up on another pyroclastic flow. (12th January – 05:11)
14. (12th January - 05:36)
14. (12th January – 05:36)
15.Morning arrives, and the incandescent material is still visible. (12th January - 05:52)
15.Morning arrives, and the incandescent material is still visible. (12th January – 05:52)
16. The crater area of Sinabung. (12th January - 14:12)
16. The crater area of Sinabung. (12th January – 14:12)
17. The lava dome. It is on this spot, partial-collapses of the dome initiates the pyroclastic flows. (12th January - 14:13)
17. The lava dome. It is on this spot, partial-collapses of the dome initiates the pyroclastic flows. (12th January – 14:13)
18. Upper part of the lava dome releasing gasses and ash.  (12th January - 14:13)
18. Upper part of the lava dome releasing gasses and ash. (12th January – 14:13)
19. Lower part of the lava-dome. Partial collapses of the lava-dome descend trough this dike.  (14:14)
19. Lower part of the lava-dome. Partial collapses of the lava-dome descend trough this dike. (14:14)
20. Smaller pyroclastic flow.  (12th January - 15:49)
20. Smaller pyroclastic flow. (12th January – 15:49)
21.Disperses right after this photo was taken. (12th January - 15:50)
21.Disperses right after this photo was taken. (12th January – 15:50)
22. Another one.  (12th January - 15:57)
22. Another one. (12th January – 15:57)
23. (12th January - 17:07)
23. (12th January – 17:07)
24. Plume from Sinabung. (12th January - 17:37)
24. Plume from Sinabung. (12th January – 17:37)
25. (12th January - 17:56)
25. (12th January – 17:56)
26. (12th January - 17:56)
26. (12th January – 17:56)
27. Dispersal.  (12th January - 17:57)
27. Dispersal. (12th January – 17:57)
28. Dust-devils, a weather-phenomonen,  form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low- pressure air above it. In this case the heated fields of the pyroclastic debris and cold mountain-air is perfect condition for the emergence of these dust devils. These ones are the largest I have observed in Indonesia.  (12th January - 19:00)
28. Dust-devils, a weather-phenomonen, form when hot air near the surface rises quickly through a small pocket of cooler, low- pressure air above it. In this case the heated fields of the pyroclastic debris and cold mountain-air is perfect condition for the emergence of these dust devils. These ones are the largest I have observed in Indonesia. (12th January – 19:00)
29. Incandescent material observed on the flank impacted frequently by pyroclastic flows. At this point there had been no activity since I started observing at 04:00 local time. (13th January - 05:14)
29. Incandescent material observed on the flank impacted frequently by pyroclastic flows. At this point there had been no activity since I started observing at 04:00 local time. (13th January – 05:14)
30. A new pyroclastic flow start its descent.(13th January - 05:15)
30. A new pyroclastic flow start its descent.(13th January – 05:15)
31. (13th January - 05:17)
31. (13th January – 05:17)
32. Reaching the base of the volcano.(13th January - 05:23)
32. Reaching the base of the volcano.(13th January – 05:23)
33. (13th January - 05:29)
33. (13th January – 05:29)
34. Crater glow and the initiation and dispersal of a smaller pyroclastic flow. (13th January - 05:54)
34. Crater glow and the initiation and dispersal of a smaller pyroclastic flow. (13th January – 05:54)
35.Sinabung seen from the Town of Brestagi (S/SW of the volcano) (13th January - 06:22)
35.Sinabung seen from the Town of Brestagi (S/SW of the volcano) (13th January – 06:22)
36. (13th January - 06:30)
36. (13th January – 06:30)


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