Experts from the Volcanological Institute of Bali had already predicted shortly after the strong earthquakes in Bali's neighbouring island of Lombok that the volcano would probably go through a short period of calm now, because the gases inside were released abruptly and in large quantities, and possibly even cracks were caused in the magma plug of the crater, which would reduce the pressure inside. After some time, however, it would become more active again. And so it did: from August to the end of December, gas clouds regularly vented from the Agung, a sign that the plug had become permeable. The seismic activity was low but present, a sure sign that the volcano was still in its active phase. But there were no eruptions, because the necessary pressure could not build up in the first place. Now, however, this phase seems to be over.
Since 30 December, 7 outbreaks have been registered. They were all smaller eruptions with ash clouds up to 2000 meters high. Tephra was hurled about 1 km east as far as could be observed (Visual observations are difficult in the rainy season because the mountain is almost always wrapped in dense clouds). Nevertheless, according to the experts, it is unlikely that a major eruption will occur in the near future.
But even without a major eruption, the situation of the villages on the flanks and at the foot of the volcano is anything but safe. Because of the heavy rainfall, lahars roll down the slopes. They ravage everything that gets in their way: bridges, roads, electricity poles, houses … In the last days 2 young women were killed by a lahar, 12 other victims, including 5 children and 1 baby, were taken to hospital with injuries. Nature knows no mercy.
Picture: Rio Helmi