A relatively large eruption occurred this morning (19/02/2018) at 08:53 local time, producing a tall ash plume and a series of pyroclastic flows that ran down the southern and southeastern flanks to a range of up to 4-5 kilometres.
An ash plume as tall as 50,000 ft (15 km) in height has been reported, which is now continuing to drift east. Observation teams noted that during the event, a larger portion of the lava lope extending from the summit dome on the upper steep southern flank broke off. Most likely, the eruption was a combination of collapse and explosion from accumulated gas overpressure in the upper conduit and lava dome.
Shortly afterwards, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center Darwin (VAAC) issued a report confirming that the mountain had indeed erupted, according to seismic readings, footage from the local area and satellite images. A ‘red notice’ warning has been issued to airlines by Australia’s bureau of meteorology as the volcano continues to vent ash clouds into the skies surrounding Sumatra. Authorities have said that flights are likely to be disrupted.
“The Bureau of Meteorology’s Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC) has briefed airlines and will continue to work closely with the aviation industry.”
Indonesia’s disaster agency spokesman Sutopo Purwo Nugroho noted that whilst there have been no fatalities or injuries reported, thousands of local people have been evacuated from the immediate vicinity of the volcano as a precaution. A seven-kilometre safety cordon already exists around the mountain in response to previous eruptions, although hundreds of houses outside this danger zone were reportedly covered in volcanic ash following today’s event.
Mount Sinabung is a stratovolcano located in the Karo plateau of Karo Regency in North Sumatra, approximately 40 kilometres (25 miles) from Lake Toba. The nearest towns are Kabanjahe and Berastagi. The 2,451 metre-tall Sinabung volcano had been dormant for over a century before erupting into life in August 2010. Sinabung has since been the site of regular lava flows and pyroclastic clouds, as the mountain’s dome has repeatedly collapsed due to tectonic shifts.
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