Gunung Kelud – Or who poked a whole in the Volcano?

From the 2007 - 2008 eruption. Here the lava dome that pushed out the crater lake had split open in an effusive manner. Photograph by Tom Pheiffer.

From the 2007 – 2008 eruption. Here the lava dome that pushed out the crater lake had split open in an effusive manner. Photograph by Tom Pheiffer.

Volcano mitigation normally means monitoring and evacuation; very rarely does it involve altering a volcano to make it less deadly. There are many and good reasons for not doing any alterations in a volcano, but in some cases it is a good idea.

Gunung Kelud – A brief summary

The relatively small Indonesian volcano of Gunung Kelud (1 731 meters) is known for its powerful and deadly eruptions. It has suffered at least 30 eruptions in the last 1 000 years, 6 of those have been VEI-4 and the eruption of 1586 was a respectable VEI-5. The majority of the other eruptions have ranked in as VEI-3, a size that is quite deadly when you have people living within the risk area.

The main deadly factors for the volcano are lahars (mudflows) and pyroclastic flows. The eruption of 1919 killed more than 5 000 people in lahars, and the eruption of 1966 killed another 200.

Even though the volcano is well monitored and the local authorities are really good at their game, there is a problem with getting the local inhabitants to evacuate before an eruption.

The lava dome after the eruption.

The lava dome after the eruption.

Active Mitigation

If you have an abundance of large volcanoes and a lot of people living close to them you either become very good at mitigation, or a lot of people will die. The option of moving all those people simply does not exist in Indonesia due to the large population and lack of farmable land. So, first the Indonesians became very good at volcano eruption prediction, and secondly they took hazard mitigation to new unheard of heights.  Back in 1919 when the western world did point towards volcanoes saying “Oh, look a Firemountain!” the Indonesians decided to experiment with landscaping their volcanoes to save lives.

After the 1919 eruption it was decided that the most deadly threat was the lahars. And the mudflows from Gunung Kelud were caused by the large crater lake as it overflowed during eruptions. The solution was equally simple as it was ingenious. The Indonesians decided to build a tunnel through the mountain to drastically lower the level of the crater lake.

Not only did it greatly diminish the size of the lahars, it also diminished the abundant pyroclastic flows. As such it was a success, what it did not do was diminish the size of the eruptions.

During the 1966 eruption the tunnel was blocked off by debris, and the eruption also lowered the base of the crater with 60 meters, so a new tunnel at a deeper level was built. In the end it was a feat of engineering as they quarried away in rock and pyroclastic flow debris that was several hundreds of degrees Celsius.

The crater lake before the eruption of 2007 - 2008. Image from Wikimedia commons.

The crater lake before the eruption of 2007 – 2008. Image from Wikimedia commons.

The second tunnel has worked remarkably well. Before an eruption starts the caldera floor bulges and the much reduced lava lake gushes out through the tunnel. This especially worked well during the 2007 to 2008 eruption.

Before the 2007 to 2008 eruption the volume of the lava lake had diminished to below 1 000 000 cubic meters, and as a precursor to the eruption a volcanic dome started to rise out of the lake, as the dome rose the water gushed out of the tunnel stopping any lahars before they could even start. And since there was less water around the interaction between the lava dome and the water was also effectively hindered. In the end the dome cracked open in an effusive manner instead of in the usual explosive way.

It is hard to say if the active mitigation actually changed the eruptive pattern of the volcano, and in a sense of it is pointless to even try to decide that. The tunnels were not built to stop eruptions, or even make them less explosive. The tunnels where built to save lives due to diminishing the lahars. As such the Indonesian endeavor has been a great success. Since the construction only one of the eruptions had a significant death toll (200) and that only occurred after the tunnel had been blocked off by debris. The amount of saved lives is probably into the thousands.

This grand scale experiment with active mitigation should probably save lives if it was implemented in other volcanoes with large crater lakes causing lahars and that have the same problem with large populations close by.


142 thoughts on “Gunung Kelud – Or who poked a whole in the Volcano?

  1. It being Saturday afternoon, I am going to ‘play’ with the three remaining unsolved clues … which should help to clear the mist!

    So clues slightly altered … still no pups so I will be back a little later.

    • No!
      What colour do you see? What do the numbers represent …. inverted of course!
      You will appreciate this clue when you solve it … promise!

  2. Ah. I read about this earlier. Most damage-prevention measures such as bombing and using hoses to put out lava flows are just-in-case measures. But this was truly a unique one in that it actively prevented a hazard from occurring. It was just as ingenious as it was effective. At least one country knows how to monitor is volcanoes.

    • Actually the Indonesians and the Philippines Mitigations agencies might be the best on the planet. They sure do get a lot of training.
      In my opinion the only ones who can keep their ground compared to them are the IMO. Now I will probably be hit over the head for not mentioning the INGV in Italy (Who are also very good).

      But almost nobody else have tried to actively counter measure volcanic dangers like the Indonesians. More should take after them.

      • Are there any volcanoes that you can think of where this could be done again? The only problem I can see is that it would cost a great deal of money, and not everyone will agree that it is cost effective. We all know that there are people in powerful places who downgrade the danger of volcanoes, particularly ones that are not currently active. I think there would be a lot of opposition – until there is a disaster when everyone will say “We should have done that when we had the chance”. A lot to think about.

        • There are a quite a few with crater lakes that would be better of if they had this done to them.
          Another thing that could be done is altering the shape of the crater cone to direct pyroclastic flows or magma flows.

          • Sorry Carl, but I strongly disagree. Draining the crater lake has only provided a minor, immediate benefit but ensured a major catastrophe in the future. It’s going to prove to be a great example of Murphy’s 2nd Law of Engineering – “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

            • Well, I am going to presume that you are talking about very large eruptions. VEI-5 and above. Those ones will not care about “volcanic landscaping”. But, let me remind you that there has only been one of those in the last 1000 years. So, I still say that the most common eruptions will be severely mitigated by draining the lake.
              And let me also reming you that the larger eruptions normaly are driven by access to water, and by limiting access to water you also diminish the risk for the very large eruptions to happen with a great deal.
              Sorry, but you need to read up on the engineering of volcanoes.

              Thank you for your input, I will get back to it in further posts. This was pretty much part one of something that have been a long going interest for me. And something that I will make a lot more out of. The combination of mining and volcanoes. Keep updated, and keep questioning me. I will need the questioning.

              Edit: Every saved life is worth it…

      • I agree completely. Just look at some of the other volcano observatories in the world. KVERT and AVO have had budget cuts. The other US observatories are probably not doing the best either. PHIVOLCS is a great observatory. But in places like the Philippines
        and Indonesia volcanic mitigation is of second nature. It is a need. The same could be said for NZ. In Italy there is corruption. I have always thought that volcanoes have always been downplayed. They will worry about an impact but not a dormant stratovolcano. They will then either blame the geologists, or if they are sentient in any form, have some foresight and fix their issues. One can only hope that the latter will be chosen.

      • Thanks for this Post Carl. Well worth trying anything if lives are saved and this shows real “bravery” in trying to lessen the terrible destruction and loss of life by lahars. hat’s off to the Indonesians.

  3. More sweet spotting…

    27.07.2013 16:28:20 63.583 -19.116 13.4 km 0.7 39.66 0.9 km WNW of Hábunga
    27.07.2013 16:25:43 63.581 -19.119 15.6 km 0.5 40.09 0.9 km W of Hábunga

  4. Good story. I do not think there are that many places where people fiddled with volcanoes. Well I can think of Etna….

    As for volcano monitoring, Merapi has been monitored since 1924. there are 4 cooperation programs with germany, the US, Japan and France. One of the scientist of IPGP (French institute in charge of volcano monitoring did his PhD thesis on the Merapi (and married a local girl by the way)). The interest for the french volcanologists is to study these andesitic volcanoes like the one we have in the french west indies (Martinique and Guadeloupe) but much more active.

  5. Good evening all! Thank you, Carl, I enjoyed your article! I bet there is a story to everyone of the Indonesian active volcanoes, I will dig around a bit. And also thanks to all the other authors before, I read and enjoy every single post but have not always the time to comment.

    I’m sure most of you have noticed the changes in White Island, aviation and volcano code have been upped to yellow again earlier this week. This is the seismogram of abt. 20 min. ago.

    • # 5 Mount Edgecombe Alaska

      Suffering from Shingles on my ankle of all places….. Riddles are taking my mind off it but the meds are not conducive to logical or illogical thoughts..

      Hi there mdate……. Just a note to say I learned most of what I know about Volcanoes from studying the IMO data it so kindly allows us to look at and try to interpret and from the magnificent live web cams. So if I bang on about Happenings in Iceland it’s just because I feel “at home” with iceland’s Volcanoes,just as I guess many people from the USA watch the Hawaiian and other North American Volcanoes.
      I am a pure amateur and for me Iceland is “Accessible” from my little room in NW England. I am just as interested in any Volcanoes anywhere in the world but it is the Icelandic access and the many helpful people in VC, especially the Icelanders and people who have first hand knowledge, that allow me to fully appreciate how complex the study of earthquakes and Volcanoes really is.
      I have read avidly all the posts here and as Carl says if you could write some posts about more obscure Volcanoes that would be great. 🙂

        • Hi Diana … some HINTS!
          No 1 has an anagram inside which will really help.
          No 5 the colour of the print might help!
          No 6 you need to keep the colour in mind whilst you convert the numbers to letters and invert them!
          Hope this helps!

  6. Really clever… Instead of a volcano which historically has produced 35 VEI 2 – 4 eruptions over the past 1000 years, albeit with the risk of lahars that admittedly killed some 5,000 people in 1919 and another 250 combined from the 1951, 1966, and 1990 eruptions, you “engineer” the type of lava dome that results in VEI 5 eruptions with almost guaranteed devastating pyroclastic flows and a high risk of a flank collapse. Had the crater lake not been drained, the 2007-8 eruption would have been worse, true, but – that lava dome would not have been emplaced.

    How typically of human stupidity! When given the choice of an immediate, minor benefit (reduced risk of lahars) and a long-term, major drawback (major catastrophic eruption with devastating pyroclastic flows and possible flank collapse), humans ALWAYS choose the short-term benefit and hope something (Divine intervention?) turns up to avert the future major disaster. Nice present for your grandchildren…

    • Do you mean, if there still were a crater lake a dome would not get a chance to rise because it would be gone as a phreatic explosion with the next activity? I don’t know… lava domes have been known to rise out of lakes anyway, the difference is probably only in the amount and direction of lahars. In any case, the inner workings of a volcano, how big an eruption and what type it will be will not depend on there being a lake or not. It will erupt big when it is so inclined, with or without lake and tunnel.

      • Speaking of Lava Domes under a lake….

        Yellowstone Lake has a dome complex underneath it as well. In fact, one of the last swarms there began under it and migrated off to under the north shore of the lake.

        But, this was still when I was fighting loons. It was sometime after Redoubt, and before Eyjafjallajökull.

      • I would not be so sure about this – there have been virtually identical (that is, purely non-explosive, dome-building) eruptions at other commonly highly explosive volcanoes like Soufrière of St-Vincent in the Lesser Antilles in 1971-1972 and at Awu in the Sangihe Islands (Indonesia) in the early 1920s. In both cases, lava domes rose through quite voluminous crater lakes but there was no explosive activity at all. I would say that in these cases as well as at Kelud in 2007-2008, the non-explosive character of the eruptions was due mostly if not entirely to the low amounts of gas (mostly water vapor and/or CO2) in the magma …

        • Thank you for pointing to other eruptions that was non explosive dome buildings, and giving the probable explanation for the non-explosivity.
          As I wrote in the post, I am not sure that they affected the volcano more than to lessen the potential for lahars. Saying anything else would require a much larger data set than one volcano could ever give.

        • Very true, who can ever be sure about what a volcano will and will not do? But isn’t it also true that the greater the obstruction, the greater the force necessary to overcome it? Would Vesuvius have remained dormant since 1944 had the conduit not been as solidly blocked as is the case? The consensus seems to be that because of the blocked vent, the next eruption of Vesuvius will be more violent than the 1944 eruption even if it’s almost certain it won’t be a repeat of 79AD.

          If it is as you say that the presence or absence of a voluminous crater lake had absolutely no effect on the emplacement of the Kelud dome nor on its physical characteristics, the draining of the crater lake in order to lessen – not nullify! – the threat posed by lahars is a good thing. But if the absence of the crater lake has led to a larger, more homogenous and less brittle lava dome, it has also increased the *risk* of a future, large eruption, one accompanied by proportionately greater pyroclastic flows and possibly even a flank collapse. Of course, it is also possible that Kelud has entered a cycle of dome extrusion/destruction that may last centuries if not millennia before the pattern changes to (very) large explosive eruptions.

          What I react against is the almost automatic assumption that because we have lessened the immediate risk posed by ONE kind of volcanic danger to people living there NOW, it is automatically a “Good Thing”.

          • I agree with you that any active volcanic mitigation comes with other risks.
            I would though say that in this case it worked and has not increased the risk. Even the domeing has oocured before. And, to top it off, before the VEI-5 eruption there was not crater lake. So, it is quite possble that the crater lake increased the amount of eruptions.

            Personaly I would say that the lowering of the crater lake has done squat in either way concerning other risks, and saved thousands of lives.

    • You do have a salient point. That emplaced dome is likely a hefty structure compared to what it would have been. If you think of violent eruptions as simple transits up and down a sigmoid curve, what they may have effectively done is to shift the historisis loop towards a more destructive potential.

      This is a curve for the Historisis loop of magnetic material. It is provided as an example of the overall shape of the sigmoidal curve.

    • Sorry, I still do not agree.
      Many volcanoes produce dome structures.
      It is quite normal for andecitic volcanoes to produce them.
      I am still saying that I never talked about large eruptions like the historical VEI-5. I am talking about the run of the mill eruption that kills thousands of people. And a proven fact is that this volcano has not killed thousand of people since it was interfered with. Even a VEI-5 would most likely not kill as many as a VEI-4 with an abundance of lahars.

      You sir are confusing scale of eruption with lethality. And that is the genius factor of what the Indonesians have done. They went for what is deadly and disregarded scale. You may say they are wrong, but you are using the wrong scale. A life saved is what it is about. Most likely the Indonesians have saved more people than Pinatubo (VEI-6) killed. Think about it.

      And please, keep on questioning me on this.

      • And please, keep on questioning me on this.

        Okay. How much wood could a woodchuck chuck, if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

        But… ona more pertinent note… What variables would you deem needed to construct a historisis curve for a volcano?

        Pressure? Resiliency of the edifice?

        • As an amateur who doesn’t have a background in physics or chemistry, I personally would say it’s too complex to gauge by simple hypothesis.

          Question for Carl and others who have more knowledge on the subject – I’m currently under the impression that lava dome building and collapse is in a way similar to strombolian activity, with the exception that it’s a bit “bigger” and involves more silicic magma. Is there any historical significance between dome-building and destruction cycles and larger-scale volcanism in the vei-5 or higher range?

          Personally, I can’t think of any eruption larger than vei-4 resulting from the depressurization due to a lava dome collapse. I know that St. Helens was technically due to a cryptodome, but that was the result of large-scale inflation as the magma in the chamber below reached a point of destablization to which it inflated and destroyed the summit to relieve the pressure. I’m pretty far under the impression that if an eruption is going to be big, the surface features have very little impact on the overall size of said eruption (unless it involves water in a caldera collapse event, but that’s a bit different). I know that a lava dome acts in a way as a cap to contain pressure, but the difference between a 30 meter tall dome and a 5 meter tall dome that detonates due to water is very miniscule considering the fact that the magma being held in a pressurized state has traveled approximately 2+ miles through dense rock to reach the surface.

          • Cbus, there are differences between lava domes and lava domes, the one at Kelud being similar to the ones emplaced at Novarupta, Redoubt and St Helens rather than the ones of Pelée, Soufrière Hills or Unsen. This one has effectively sealed the current vent and will almost certainly take a lot more to shift than previous eruptions. It all depends on how “solid” a mountain Kelud is. If the mountain is stronger than the plug, it will take at least a VEI 4 eruption to shatter it and send it 25 km into the sky. If the mountain is weaker than the plug, but not much, you can’t exclude a repeat of the 1980 St Helens eruption. If the mountain is substantially weaker, you could end up with a new vent somewhere on the slope of Kelud at quite some distance from the original one.

            • Actually according to the sources and images I have found it has happily decomposed into rubble and debree…

        • I am on my first coffee, so I am not entirely sure what you are asking for.
          But my guess is that we are talking about risk analysis of the volcano? Is so, average gas content, water table level and soforth. And of course pressure gradients, setup of the magmatic system, any oddball ring faults… It would be bunches of factors.

      • Carl, Carl…

        a) The number and size of eruptions over the past 1,000 years gives you an indication – not an exact and reliable measure – an indication of the total energy flow of the system. This flow seems to have increased as 16 or almost half of them took place the last two centuries. Energy-wise, Kelud could have VEI 5 eruptions every 1 – 2 centuries. Also, remember what you yourself have pointed out about the evolution of magma chambers and size of eruptions over time.

        b) With a crater lake, there was no chance of a huge lava dome forming. Instead the plug that sealed the vent of Kelud was *weak*, easily broken, which ensured that eruptions were not too severe – the seal broke before too much pressure could build up. Now, with a huge lava dome, the vent is strongly sealed which ensures that the next eruption WILL be that much larger/greater. As it requires a much higher pressure before it yields, it also increases the risk of a lateral blast as happened at St. Helens, Bezymianny or Sheveluch.

        c) The people previously at risk from lahars live in valleys close to the volcano. These valleys are now at risk of being inundated by 500 – 1000 degrees C hot pyroclastic flows at distances beyond those threatened by lahars. Should Kelud suffer a St. Helens type of flank collapse, you’ll have to tag at lease one if not two zeroes on at the end of the 5000 death toll of 1919.

        d) Because this disaster will take time to materialise, most likely not sooner than twenty-five years and probably lies fifty to hundred years in the future, the engineering project may be seen as a blessing for the people living there today, but it’s definitely a curse on their grandchildren.

        This is a project that does not look to the future, only the present. It is a project that is as misguided as it is myopic, taking only the current generation into account. It is a project that will ultimately end in disaster.

        • And if we do the maths:

          Over the past 100 years 5000 + 250 = 5250 people have been killed by lahars from Kelud.

          Since Kelud could theoretically have VEI 5 eruptions every 100 too 200 years, but the death toll could easily be ten and with a flank collapse a hundred times greater…

          The only maths the engineers have considered is that we’ve bought ourselves at least 50 years. By the time Kelud blows catastrophically, we’ll be long gone anyway and someone else will have to pick up the pieces.

        • Hello again!

          I will do my best to answer you points.

          A) I am going to write off partially as data set bias. As we get closer to today the amount of eruptions will be better recorded. And even if the volcano has had a real increase in eruptions I would still state that it is a part of the normal evolution of said volcano and has nothing to do with the diminished size of the crater lake. After all, you yourself not that the increase started before any alterations was made.
          I agree that it is quite possible that the volcano is evolving, and that it could have more VEI-5 eruptions. Neither of this is affected by this rather small scale landscaping of the volcanic edifice.

          B) First I would like to refer to Boris Behncke up above. Secondly, Gunung Kelud has had several dome formations without them causing a large eruption, nor plugging up the system.

          C) The risk of pyroclastic flows have not been affected, or maybe even lessened. Water after all increases the likelihood of a pyroclast to form. And, during the 1966 eruption some of the pyroclastic material left via the tunnel.
          There is no risk at all for St Helens flank collapse at Gunung Kelud. The shape and type of volcano is just wrong for that. If she gets to build up for a few hundred thousand years we could start worrying about that. To put it into perspective, it would be as likely as Etna going St Helens on us…

          I do not agree at all that it increases the likelihood of a larger eruption. Gunung Kelud will most likely have a large eruption sooner or later. And I do not see any way this small landscaping would affect that. But, something tells me that I can not convince you entirely otherwise.

          • I’d like to add one item for your consideration. One of the dangers of stratovolcanoes is that acidic gases turn rock into clay, destabilising them. Crater lakes of very active volcanoes are very efficient at trapping volcanic gases instead of releasing them to the atmosphere and tend to be highly acidic as a result, correct? Isn’t it also correct to say that as a consequence, a lava dome that sits beneath a highly acidic lava lake will be decomposed to clay far more quickly than one that does not?

            With this in mind, isn’t it conceivable that by the time of the next eruption, earlier lava domes had already metamorphosed to clay domes to the extent that they no longer served as an effective plug?

            • Well, I am not a rock morphologist so I can not answer that one really. But, as far as I know the previous dome was constructed without any crater lake being in place.

              Between you and me your the far more Rocky type 😉

  7. Hi Milord

    Considering that the main problem were lahars, I do think the present system gives probably the best possible answer. Without more data on the size of the lake, depth, size of the lava dome, and so on it’s difficult from my point of vue to give any assumption.
    However water and lava do not make for an easy cohabitation.

    • The size of the lava dome is pretty much the same as the lava lake was.
      1 000 000 cubic meters. +/-200 000

  8. There were some 16 small quakes today in El Hierro. Small ones, but pretty well localized under pico Malpaso.

    They are as filled dots

    • Hey DING! 2 points for Great Blue Hill … well done Diana!
      I have left you some hints for the others above!

      • Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeee! Thank you Kilgarrah. Only on Coffee # 1 yet but my Plagued leg is slightly less swollen, I finally managed some sleep and it rained during the night so I have stopped fretting about not being able to water my veggies. Life is sweet and obviously my brain is still in action 😀 I’ll keep searching for answers. 🙂

  9. I have recently thought about Baekdu and how the Chinese censor it from public view. There was a post about this. They may be missing something more from censoring it from the public:money. Baekdu is perhaps the best equivalent to Americas Crater lake. It is as if North Korea and China decided to start a joint project to compete with Crater lake. Thus, it has plenty of potential to become a large tourist attraction. But how will censoring help that? If nobody knows about it then who will go there? That money could be used to monitor the volcano. Just an idea. It is a volcano which has a recovering magmatic system. It needs the monitoring.

    • They do not censor it. It is monitored.
      Re-read the post and particularly the comments. Open the links!
      It is better monitored than Hekla or Katla (more SILs, more GPS, strain-meters etc).

        • Yes, exactly.
          There are not that many links. It is just stated in the links that it is monitored.
          And let me reiterate. A chinese physicist who grew up on the shore did not know about the volcano. That is a whopping error in information. To make it even worse, his thesis is about wave interaction with rocks (I am co-chair).

          • Wut…
            I googled “I am co-hair” and Giggle says its Irish! Giggi Translator gave it as “I am co-hair” and Arabic as أنا الرئيس المشارك
            Still am lost on meaning 🙂

            • Well, I think you missed the letter “c”…
              Co-chair (chair as on the thing one sits one) is when you are the second supervisor on someone doing their ph.d. thesis.
              Normally you call in a co-chair when the regular thesis supervisor does not get what the student is doing…

              Now I am going to bed my self down in a single-bed. That is when one is unmarried… 🙂

            • Ah co-chair … like co-pilot. Got it.
              *coloured face*
              Have restful night.
              Some call it have certain advantage … to choose that is.
              BBGN You all

            • Wait a minute… the supervisor is supposed to be one of the preeminent people knowledgeable in the field, in order to throw the bullshit flag if the thesis author is talking out their ass….

              And the co-chair is there in case the supervisor doesn’t get it?

            • Lurking, in this age academic preeminence is measured either by the number of pages of published works or by the number of times your work has been quoted in other dissertations, papers et.c.

              Obviously neither of these measures, being quantitative, have no bearing on true merit. In fact, it is quite possible to become a professor (European nomenclature, not American) without even having the foggiest about your own subject.

            • Actually, there are not that many physicists here that have worked in my slim little field. So, the supervisor does his part (regarding general physics parts) and I help out with the parts that are specific. Trust me, the professor in question is pretty good, but physics is a too wide field for one person to be able to supervise in its entirety.

          • Here’s a good start.

            Click to access G-EVER1_P_DUPONT_PNU.pdf

            Note it is a South Korean document that quotes Chinese sources. If you are to believe this, and I can see no reason not to, then it at least partly answers the questions of alleged Chinese censorship (it’s a massive tourist attraction already, guys!), whether the Chinese are cooperating with their neighbours, and also whether the volcano is monitored or not.

            Changbaishan/Baekdu has 11 sites with both seismometer and GPS – for comparison Hekla and Katla/Fimm/Eyja both have nine GPS, while Hekla has three SILs and Katla/Fimm/Eyja has eight. (from and

            There are scientific papers from the Chinese volcano observatory freely available (I quoted from a couple the last time we discussed this). A web search in Chinese using the most used Chinese search engine (Beidu) gave lots of results and a nice Wiki-style article that included a description of volcanic activity. ‘Hong Kong’ Google gives similar results, as does the zh.wikipedia site. Using an English-Chinese translation tool I even found the website of the Changbai volcano observatory itself – I might still have the link lurking somewhere but not on this computer. It took quite a while to find, what with all the translation back and forth, and I don’t intend doing it again. However, all the above convinced me that there is no hiding of the volcano, and that there is a permanently staffed and sizeable monitoring operation in place dedicated to this volcano (at least from the Chinese side).

            OK – that’s a brief summary of what I found ….

    • Hi Renato 🙂 I have been thinking about you as I watched the Pope’s Visit 🙂 It was on our TV news 🙂 Thank you for alert.. That link only shows a map of locations of Volcanoes in Japanese , however there is a list to the right side and Sakurajima is 4th & 5th line of characters from the bottom

  10. Yesterday, we went for a trip near Veidivotn. Its a fantastic but desolate area, and just before we got to Veidivotn we were surprised by a freak Icelandic event: a big thunderstorm, something I never thought it could be possible in Iceland (thunderstorms occur sometimes in Iceland but are mostly small and weak, yet this was a strong thunderstorm, with hail and strong gusts; it looked like one of those big summer European thunderstorms)

    I looked at the lava rocks around Veidivotn, they had a lot of quartz, so they are rich in silica, apparently more than the ones of Grimsvotn or Laki. I was surprised by this.

    However there is something I am intrigued by. The path from Veidivotn, Hrauneyjar, Burfell, Thjorsadalur, Arnes, Vordufell, Selfoss, Eyrabakki is supposed to be the one followed by the great Thjorsahraun lava of Bardarbunga. I found similar rocks at Thjorsadalur and Eyrabakki which are clearly an indication of this, however the lava field in Thjorsadalur seems to have came from the north of Burfell, and then I can’t understand how it crossed the Thjorsa river. However geography was probably very different 8000 years ago, as even Hekla was just being formed there back then. I have a suspicious of my own that the Thjorsa lava could have formed at a place where Hekla was being born and not further northeast at the Veideivotn region. Just a crazy thought.

      • Yeah, I know, it could be a good source, but Vatnafjoll lava could never flow from where it starts to the higher terrain, further north, near Thjorsadalur.

        Just go to google maps, see Burfell near Hekla. To the west there is a vast lava field (that’s the Thjorsahraun basalt, but there it seems to have come flown from the north. The lava on the other side of the river Thjorsa, to the east, seems different. Therefore I am confused by it. It is as if the lava either:
        1) started north of Burfell and Hekla (where no visible crater or fissure seems to exist). Only Pleistocene ridges.
        2) started to the east, many kms to the east, in the postulated Veidivotn region, from there, how did it crossed the Thjorsa river?

        Maybe islander could help with this.

        Just a offtopic: vatnafjoll seems to be a continuation of all the dead zone ridges that continue towards the southwest, crossing Torfajokull and then you have ridges like Raudfossafjoll and Vatnafjoll. A map shows it very well.

        • There is yet another line of fissures to the west of Veidivötn that belong to a dormant volcano between Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull. It was presumably active during deglaciation.
          That could be the point of origin for your mystery lava.

          Did you pick any samples? If so I think we could go a long way with one of Spicas SEM images.

          • Tungnafellsjokull.

            Yes, many ridges spread since the hotspot center towards the southwest, more or less until Hekla. There are so many of them that it is complicate to assign them to which volcano.

            As I say many time Carl, anywhere between the west and the east volcanic regions, rifting occurs in between, in the transform types zones. Magma erupts where it finds a way up. Just like you posted with the Laki series, magma can erupt outside of a central volcano just to start forming another new central volcano over time 🙂

  11. I’m still with the elements and magma of different Icelandic volcanoes.

    A common basalt has usually 45-55% SiO2, 14-19% Al2O3, 5-15% FeO, 5-15% MgO, 10%CaO, 2-6% Na2O and K2O.

    Do you guys know how this varies for most volcanoes in Iceland and volcanic regions, say Hekla, Torfajokull, Katla, Hengill and Grimsvotn? This information would be useful to be gathered somewhere but I cannot find it. Perhaps someone can help me out.

    • Hi Irpsit, this is probably not exactly what you are looking for, but maybe some stuff in the right direction:

      Much about the geochemical composition of Icelandic lavas in “The three igneous rock series of Iceland” (quite interesting, for other readers as well I think. And it has a long list of further reading on this topic.):

      Click to access Jokull58.pdf

      On this page, scroll down to “Download teaching materials and tips”, the first link is a spreadsheet showing the lava composition for Askja, Hekla and Reykjaness. Maybe you can find more on this website:

      • Cool stuff. In the first article, I like when it says that Hofsjokull volcano is part of a transform type zone, and so it is the south Iceland seismic zone, where volcanoes have erupted recently in late Pleistocene (and even Holocene – Grimsnes) but have not developed a central volcano yet.

        So where I live, there will be more eruptions until a central volcano develops, just like it occurred with Hekla since 10.000 years ago.

        What can the future be?
        Hekla might eventually become a caldera like Torfajokull.
        Eruptions might occur towards the southwest of Hekla
        Eruptions will continue to occur between Hekla and Hengill, developing central volcanoes.
        The Grimsnes region might be one. Where a central volcano might develop I do not know, but probably near Hestfjall as its where most tectonic activity occurs.
        I reckon that a second central volcano might develop anywhere near Fludir or Arnes.

        Carl: has your nothing short of 10 independent volcanic systems instead of only the general group-into-all Reykjanes volcanic system. These include your submarine Geirfuglasker, Eldey, and Svartsengi.

        • The volcanic system I was infering might be responsible for your mystery lava are Vonarskard and Hágöngur. The map in the paper that you just posted does not extend the fissure swarm far enough south and north.
          It is the previous principal rifting fissure eruption swarm before Bárdarbunga/Veidivötn Swarm came into preeminence.

            • Tungnafelljökull is the glacier ontop of Vonarskard. Hágöngur is south of Tungnafellsjökull and it is the central volcano of the volcanic fissure swarm. My bet would be that it is from this place your mystery lava comes from. Also… there has been signs during the last two years that Hágöngur is not as dormant as previously belived.

              Edit: I should have written that Hágöngur is the larger of the two central volcanoes…

  12. El Hierro today: Magnitude : 3, GMT/UTC Time : 2013-07-28 16:22:39, Depth (Hypocenter) : 21 km
    and a 2.8 at 11 km.. cooling down?

  13. I find this very unsettling. As far as I can determine we risk loosing our friends from Great Britain.
    The reason is that in some kind of weird moral majority censorship urge Cameron wants not only to filter pornography and extremist material, he also wants to block out Web Forums and Forums with Esoteric Material. I guess that would be us.
    Why will we be impounded by the censorship filters? Well, we do discuss things that infringe on weapons technology and science that are partially used in weapons tech. Ontop of that we discuss freely and openly about anything.
    I hope that our UK friends can put a stop to this before it is launched.

    • Plus you said “saloup de fromage” once and that is capital offence -:)) (in fact there is no u and an “erie” at the end to get the exact rude word).
      We’re not esoteric, not even loonies come around here. See I’am writing “Laacher See” and “Tsunami La Palma” and nothing happens !

        • My Problem is not the ladies, but I can’t say no to cheese alone. (well considering where I come from it’s probably a necessary genetic mutation)

          • Seems like I have picked up that mutation too… Perhaps it is some kind of neurogenetic virus going around (and if that did not put us on a hotlist I do not know what will).

            • Meanwhile our American friends are blocking Mimolette from their territory. Shame ! They already had banned Roquefort….I can’t even dream of sending a parcel with some local smelly beer washed crust cheese to Lurking, I would probably get the FBI at home thinking I’m trying to sneak some biowarfare weapon….wait…. is that a mosquito or a drone buzzing around my ears??

            • I am most likely responsible for the ban to airfreight Swedish Surströmming to the US…
              But, I guess that Lurking would prefer a cheese to surströmming. 🙂

    • I heard about it too. It’s really ridiculous. Even if it was only about porn.

      If you read this:
      “As well as pornography, users may automatically be opted in to blocks on “violent material”, “extremist related content”, “anorexia and eating disorder websites” and “suicide related websites”, “alcohol” and “smoking”. But the list doesn’t stop there. It even extends to blocking “web forums” and “esoteric material”, whatever that is. “Web blocking circumvention tools” is also included, of course.”

      You start wondering which site will not be blocked. For example, if they are going block “alcohol”, are they going to block every site which mentions Beer or Wine? Bye food blogs, restaurant guides, web shops etc. And what defines porn, violent, extremist and esoteric? As far as I know they are different for each unique person. For instance: I find such filter “extremist” and violating my freedom. So the filter has to block itself. 🙂 But I don’t think that will happen. You can of course to “opt-out” but than you have to take action, knowing what happens and you will be listed. It will make the American PRISM redundant.

      I hope they will not succeed, they can move to China if they wish censored internet. (Of course, I don’t live in Britain but if it succeed once, it can happen somewhere else.)

      • It is the scariest thing I have ever seen to be proposed by a democratic country.
        It is rather appaling to think that a country would like to be thought monitored. What is next? Newspeak?

            • BEDROOM TAX???!!!

              What on earth is that? Do they tax you for making babies, for sleeping, or for generally having a bedroom?

              I can see people filling in tax-forms…
              Do you have a bedroom? Yes.
              Do you make babies in said bedroom? Yes.
              Do you (god forbid) sleep in your bedroom? Yes.
              Have your spouse spanked your bottom when you have been naughty? Yes…

              We do not need natural disasters as long as we have politicians.

        • News over wars: Violent and extremist (Syria for example)
          about festivals: acohol, smoking and porn if you see some “performers”
          any political view that is different that are theirs = esoteric
          any form of nude = porn (like facebook)

          I don’t think that blocking newspapers will be a problem.

          • news over wars, nope just putting the rabble into their place, festivals, nope, smoking is good fro the lungs with coughing you can’t see anything(porn, political views, lullabys, FB educating the populous, see all taken care off

        • I think they will find overly difficult to implement these filters. Let’s hope they desist from trying to do that. Mainly, the only thing they’ll manage to do is looking utterly ridiculous. I remember when Napster began to have some issues, one only had to change one letter (ie madonna became medonna) and the trick was done…..anyway it will be very very easy to circumvent these filters by using a proxy, so these guys know really nothing. The problem with our politicians (in general) is that they are completely web illiterate…..they do not understand that you cannot filter something designed to withstand a nuclear war.

          • It’s not going to happen because the British Government is not that good at governing. We have all sorts of laws passed that are not workable. It’s just a knee-jerk reaction to recent polls that suggest it would be popular. Cameron was recently on the radio to say that all internet porn must be completely out of reach of children, but that he would be doing nothing to ban the daily picture of a topless girl in the country’s most popular ‘family’ newspaper as that would be against Press freedom.

          • A very ridicule law from one country, that in my opinion, is one of the least democratic countries in the world (the US is another, Russia is another, and European union is starting to be another). I call them the dictatorships masked as democracies, or fake democracies. The UK not only has a freaking number of webcams watching your steps everywhere, but also a PRISM like governmental software. Really, if you cannot think a new idea, if you cannot share, if you cannot protest in the street without written authorization and blabla, if the power is controlled always by the same (corporations, banks), if every step of you is watched. Is this not the mark of a dictatorship?

            Then, of course there are the obvious dictatorships, China, Cuba. etc. At least they are assumed as such and do not lie, manipulate as much as the US or UK.
            Then, there are the more benign dictatorships like Dubai or Brunei.
            And the really hardcore dictatorships like North Korea. Comical but sad.
            In most of Africa, you have democracies, but in fact they are non-functional and corrupted.

            There are actually few real democracies, and even these are somewhat sick nowadays. I think things like Austria, Norway, Iceland…

            But this law, is a serious offense to freedom of speech. Problem is that nowadays such offenses are so common from these governments, that no one really cares that much.

            This is the real problem. Their control is almost at full extent now.

      • [The movie] has been “turned into a Bush-era parable by people too timid to set a political satire in their own country…. It’s a thwarted and frustrated and largely impotent American liberal fantasy of someone with American liberal values standing up against a state run by neoconservatives — which is not what the comic V for Vendetta was about. It was about fascism, it was about anarchy, it was about England.

        Alan Moore – Author; “V for Vendetta”

        Co-author and illustrator David Lloyd had a more favorable opinion of the movie.

        It’s a terrific film. The most extraordinary thing about it for me was seeing scenes that I’d worked on and crafted for maximum effect in the book translated to film with the same degree of care and effect.

    • Watching this closely. How do you censor alcohol? What about home made wines. ancient recipes. I dislike Nanny States.They have a lot to answer for, raising populations who have an inability to think logically or indeed to think at all….
      Coffee #1 and far to early to get my blood pressure rising thinking about the dreadful state my country is in. Be assured Carl, I will do what it takes not to have to give up my Friday Riddling .

  14. DFM, do you have Vitton Georges on your FB friends list?
    If so could you tell him that I love that he posts my posts in french. I am not entirely sure my french is good enough for him to understand that he has my permission to do so.

      • Sadly no… I will just have to hope that I did not insult his soup or something. My french can be a tad creative on occation.

        • This is what I sent.


          Vous êtes plus que bienvenus pour publier mes messages. J’aime que vous publiez les messages en français.
          Désolé que mon français n’est pas mieux.


  15. This one was slightly unusual…

    28.07.2013 19:55:21 63.681 -19.606 12.0 km 1.0 52.53 6.2 km W of Básar

  16. Pingback: Gunung yang indah | idadesak

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