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Industry alert as rumbling Bali volcano threatens to erupt

September 21, 2017 Headline News No Comments Email Email

The effect of volcanic ash clouds on air travel is notorious and Bali is currently on alert amid fears that Mount Agung volcano, which caused widespread destruction when it erupted in 1963, is about to blow.

Bali’s Governor has urged people to remain calm after geologists reported that seismic activity at the volcano has increased significantly this week. Authorities have issued a level 3, or high, alert and have evacuated people living within 7.5 kilometres of the volcano.

The 1963 eruption killed about 1100 people.

The West Australian newspaper quoted the head of Indonesia’s Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation Centre, Gede Suantika, saying volcanic tremors were first detected in the volcano in August and had been growing steadily.

Mount Agung from the east

For reasons not fully understood, seismic and volcanic activities sometimes occur in clusters. Yesterday saw a major earthquake in Mexico (following another even bigger one there a week ago: see Industry weathers apocalypse of storm, quake and war) and two significant earthquakes in New Zealand.

Mexico suffered its most lethal earthquake in a generation, killing at leat 225 people, while just hours later, an undersea earthquake with a magnitude of 6.1 struck in the remote Southern Ocean south of New Zealand and two smaller quakes — a 4.7 and 5.0 magnitude — were recorded off the New Zealand coast and felt strongly in the North Island.

According to the Earth Observatory of Singapore, “seismic clusters result from the fact that a big earthquake puts further strain on the surrounding faults, which are likely to rupture soon after”.

Bali’s Mount Agung is a popular hiking and trekking spot for tourists, including many from Australia. Since the year 1800, it has had four major eruptions: in 1908, 1823, 1843 and 1963.

No volcanic ash has been detected yet and there is no effect on flights so far – but smoke is rising from the volcanic crater and vulcanologists are standing ready.

Written by Peter Needham

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