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Mt Merapi Erupts Again

November 6, 2010

In one of my previous post, I mentioned about twin disasters of earthquake/Tsunami and volcanic eruption which Indonesia has been facing. Mt Merapi first erupted recently on Oct 26th killing about 44 people. Since then the volcano has been active on and off. On Nov3rd, it erupted again but this time it was 5 times stronger than Oct 26th eruption killing more people and spewing out gases and ashes farther than expected. Till now total number of reported deaths have been 144 and about 160,000 people have been evacuated. Indonesian govt has declared the event as a national emergency and danger zone has been extended to 12 miles from the location of the volcano.In the image above you can see thermal images from NASA’s Terra satellite taken on Oct 30. The thermal data has been then overlaid on the map of the mountain to give an idea of extent of the flow of material from the eruption.

While Mt Merapi has been an active volcano, but this hasn’t deterred people from living on its slopes and fothills. On various occasions volcano activity has disrupted the lives of the villagers. Some might ask why the villagers go and live on the slopes of killer mountain. Well, volcanic activity results in making the surrounding lands very fertile which is good for cultivation and helps in supporting a large population. Indonesia is a very densely populated country and land availability is scarce. So I guess villagers chose to live in the shadow of this killer volcano knowing the fact that it might erupt anytime, but atleast till that time, they will be able to grow food and feed their family and survive and hope that in future if it erupts, they might be lucky enough to survive and continue with their lives.It’s a very very tough choice they have to make.

Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory

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