Mt. Barujari, Rinjani erupts in Lombok, trekkers evacuated
The volcano Mt. Barujari on the island of Lombok, just east of Bali, reportedly erupted Sunday morning at approximately 10:45 am local time.
The active volcano is situated right in the east side of the caldera of Lombok's popular trekking mountain Rinjani. It's nine kilometers or about a 12 hour climbing trip up, said Mutaharlin, chairman of the Rinjani Volcano Observation Post, in the village of Sembalun. "We've already set the alert status from the normal level," he told Tempo on Sunday.
The head of Sembalun Resort, Mt. Rinjani National Park (TNGR), Zulfahri, said from Mataram that the island is still experiencing smoke and dust fall on a small scale after the eruption.
"The condition of the smoke at the beginning of the eruption was not too big, but we have made efforts to evacuate the climbers for fear the eruption continues to expand," Zulfahri said, as quoted by Republika.
He said he did not know the exact number of climbers that were still at Lake Segara Anak, Rinjani's crater lake.
"There are four members of the TNGR team still up (on the slopes) to evacuate the climbers. I am not yet exactly sure how many climbers are registered, but the data will make everything more clear," Zulfahri explained yesterday.
The evacuation was apparently being routed through a climbing lane in Torean, North Lombok, which hasn't been hit as hard with smoke and dust from the eruption.
Zulfahri confirmed that the official hiking trails through Sembalun and Timbanuh, in East Lombok and Senaru in North Lombok have all been closed.
"Ascent activity has been closed because the conditions do not allow for the safety of the climbers and this information has been conveyed to tour guides via the internet," he said.
TNGR has also contacted the organizers of the event "Mulang Pekelem," a two-day religious upacara (ceremony) on Rinjani's slopes.
Mt. Barujari's last reported eruption was on May 2, 2009 with a death toll of 31 people, due to floods resulting from the eruption. The mountain previously erupted in 2004 but thankfully no casualties then. Other recorded eruptions were in 1944, 1966, 1994.
First and foremost, we sure hope everyone's ok. We also hope this doesn't screw around too much with flights like Raung did earlier this year.
Volcanic activity worldwide 26 Oct 2015: Soputan volcano, Dukono, Turrialba, Tungurahua, Batu Tara, ...
Aso (Kyushu): While the volcano continues to degas strongly and has intermittent, mostly small ash emissions, a stronger explosion occurred again early on 23 Oct around 6 am local time.
An ash plume rose approx. 1.5 km above the Nakadake crater and dissipated quickly. Alert level remains at 3 out of 5, and an exclusion zone of 2 km around the crater is in place.
Bagana (Bougainville Island, Papua New Guinea): Ash emissions occurred from the volcano yesterday, suggesting ongoing mild explosive activity. VAAC Darwin reported a low-level plume extending 50 km northwest from Bagana.
Batu Tara (Sunda Islands, Indonesia): A volcanic ash plume at 5,000 ft (1.5 km) altitude extending 80 km west of the volcano was reported by VAAC Darwin this morning.
Soputan (North Sulawesi, Indonesia): The volcano is calm at the surface, but seismic activity shows it is at unrest and might erupt again soon.
Our correspondent Andi visited the volcano observatory during our ongoing tour to N-Sulawesi and Halmahera: "Deep volcanic quakes (5-10 km depth) and shallow tremors has been more frequent (10 -15 times per day) since 3 oct - 22 oct. This suggests there is probably magma raising up slowly, but there are still no glowing spots visible."
Dukono (Halmahera): The volcano continues to erupt continuous, loud, roaring jets of gas and small amounts of spatter from vents at the bottom of the deep crater.
Ash plumes are regularly being reported by VAAC Darwin.
The attached pictures by our friend Aris Yanto was taken a few days ago from the crater rim.
Turrialba (Costa Rica): After several months of relative calm, the volcano began to erupt ash plumes again since 23 Oct. Some of the explosions have been relatively strong and caused very small pyroclastic flows limited to the crater area.
The origin of these emissions are likely phreatic explosions, i.e. caused by overheated ground water flashing to steam.
Whether this is the case or at least some fresh magma is involved is unclear. Seismic activity, which could suggest the rise of new magma, has been reported to have picked up recently.
Cotopaxi (Ecuador): No significant changes have occurred during the past days. The activity remains characterized by intense degassing and occasional mild ash emissions mixed into the plume.
Tungurahua (Ecuador): Mild to moderate ash emissions, with ash plumes rising 1-2 km above the crater, have become more frequent over the past days, suggesting the volcano's activity has started to picking up. An explosion at 04:33 yesterday morning was seen ejecting incandescent material that rolled down the western flank to up to 1 km distance.
Light ash fall occurred later in Chacauco, Cotaló and Manzano. The ash was reported to be black and red in color and sugary in grain size. The first (color) suggest that it is from new magma (as opposed to typically gray-brown colored ash from pulverized older rock). The volcano observatory also reported an increase in seismic activity associated with fluid movements.
One possibility is that the volcano (after all, one of the world's most active ones) enters a more vigorous phase of activity in the near future, as often occurred in the past.
Volcano Activity Summary for 26 Oct 2015:
Descending Into A Volcano — To Farm
- VIEW SLIDESHOW 1 of 3The Pululahua Crater in Ecuador erupted about 2,500 years ago. The soils remaining in the collapsed mountain are mineral rich and good for cultivation.Kirk Siegler NPR
From the rim of Ecuador's Pululahua Geobotanical Reserve, it's at least a 45-minute drive (no, more like plunge) down a winding, bone-crushing dirt road to the floor of the crater. But it's well worth it. After all, how often do you get to say you've traveled to what's billed as the world's only inhabited, cultivated volcano?
I should offer a caveat since volcanoes are very much in the news here. This one's inhabited because it's dormant. It last erupted about 2,500 years ago but the soils that were left behind in the collapsed mountain are rich in minerals. Today the terraced mountainsides are still excellent for cultivating crops such as corn, sugar cane, beans and a rare variety of potato called camoate.
Pululahua is loosely translated from Quechua (the indigenous language) to fog. Almost every afternoon, clouds shroud the steep mountain walls that circle the crater in a dense fog that blows in from the coast.
But if you get there early enough in the morning, it's a stunning sight. It's also a window into rural Ecuador's past. Pululahua is just a short distance from the bustling capitol of Quito, yet this crater -– protected as a geobotanical reserve in 1978 and later as a national park –- is a peaceful escape.
It's widely believed that there has been farming here for hundreds of years. But in more recent times, the crater was included as part of Ecuador's large, colonial hacienda system. The country's first Spanish colonialists divided up much of Ecuador into vast haciendas, or farms, that were powered by mostly native farm workers, or huasipongos.
Thousands of native people did the farming, without pay, in exchange for a very small piece of land they could farm on their own, usually on their one day off a week. Ecuador didn't actually abolish this huasipongo system until the land reforms of 1963.
Today, on Pululahua's pancake flat floor, a half dozen or so farms run by the descendants of these huasipongos remain. One of them is 86-year-old Humberto Moromenacho, who is one of 15 full-time residents still living in the crater.
Taking a break from work to talk outside a small shack that serves as an improvised shop, Moromenacho uses a cut, wooden log as a stool to sit on. His hands are caked with dirt from the fields and he's missing part of his index finger on his right hand.
Through an interpreter, he says that his family has farmed here for more than 300 years. All of his relatives have left though. In fact, most of the remaining people who still live in the crater full-time are elderly. Even just ten years ago, the population was 50. The last of the younger families moved away when the small school closed four years ago. There also isn't a doctor or other basic services. But aside from that, most of the farms like Moromenacho's are pretty well self-sustainable.
Moromenacho says his relatives who live nearby in San Antonio de Pichincha and the Quito area come back to help to pick his corn and tend to his beef cows. Most of the organic crops grown here are sold at markets elsewhere, the remaining is consumed locally.
Even after a short visit, you can't help but get the sense that this way of life may be going away soon. Moromenacho's relatives may sell his small piece of land when he dies if there's no one willing to keep farming it. The same dilemma will probably apply to the other indigenous farmers here. And a few of the crater's newer inhabitants -– aside from the owners of a small youth hostel –- have come from other countries more recently to set up horse ranches and more modern organic farms mostly for tourism.
Some of these spiffy, newer homes with wrap-around porches can be seen on the ascent back up the windy road to get back to Quito. But there is no time to visit. The clouds were rolling in, and soon the Pululahua crater would be engulfed in fog.
A version of this story originally appeared on NPR's On The Road Tumblr.