Anak Krakatau volcano erupts in Indonesia


Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The Anak Krakatau volcano, located in Indonesia, erupting ash and smoke

Rolando Rios, Reporter

Anak Krakatau (which means Child of Krakatau) is one of the most famous volcanoes in the world. The volcano is in the province of Lampung, Indonesia, more specifically the Sunda Strait between the Java and Sumatra islands. On April 10, it was reported that the volcano was spewing a 650-foot column smoke and ash after an eruption that lasted one minute and 12 seconds, starting at 9:58 pm according to Pusat Vulkanologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi (PVMBG translated to Centre of Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation in English). PVMBG reported that a second eruption that lasted 38 minutes and four seconds began later that same night at 10:35 pm. The second eruption resulted in a 16,000-foot ash column. The volcano has been continuously erupting ever since, this event led to volcanologists and geophysicist clarifying the situation.

“Krakatau is erupting. Again…Krakatau erupted so fiercely in 1883 that it destroyed itself while wrecking devastation. This is Anak Krakatau, ‘Child of Krakatau’ rebuilt by subsequent eruptions…This eruption is not unusual, but it is dangerous. Stay away,” Mika McKinnon, geologist and adjunct professor at the University of British Columbia, said.

Krakatau previously erupted in December 2018, causing a deadly tsunami that killed an estimated 430 people. There have been no confirmed causalities of this event. The PVMGB has issued a level two alert status, the second-highest alert status out of four.

“[The eruption is] still within the expected level for a disaster-prone area. Continued eruptions could potentially occur, but there has been no detection of volcanic activity that could lead to greater eruptions intensity,” Kasbani, the head of the PVMBG, said.

Anak Krakatau is not the only active volcano currently. The Popocatepetl volcano in central Mexico has been erupting since April 14. The Piton de la Fournaise volcano on the island of La Réunion off the eastern coast of Africa is also active. Experts say this is relatively normal.

“There are 40-50 erupting right now. We don’t hear about them unless they’re A) near a populated area, or B) a famous one that has erupted in recorded human history. We hear about Anak Krakatau because its predecessor, Krakatau, erupted in huge fashion in 1883,” Jess Phoenix, a volcanologist and co-founder of the nonprofit Blueprint Earth, said.

The column of water vapor and ash that Anak Krakatau’s eruptions caused were large enough to be photographed from space. The Landsat 8 satellite, a joint project by the US  Geological Survey and NASA captured an image of one of Anak Krakatau’s eruptions on April 13. Using the natural-color image and infrared data gathered by Landsat 8’s Operational Land Imager, a hot spot was found, it is speculated to be some form of molten rock.

“The location of the plume suggests that it is volcanic in origin…On April 12. I saw a similar feature in one of the angular [Multi-angle Imaging Spectroradiometer(MISR)] images with a plume-like feature above the volcano summit…It is possible the heavier ash particles emitted are staying lower in the atmosphere and are being transported to the north by near-surface winds…In contrast, any water and gases within the plume, which are lighter, would be transported higher and would condense rapidly in the atmosphere,” Verity Flower, a Universities of Space Research Association volcanologist at the Goddard Space Flight Center, said.

Anak Krakatau is just one of six volcanoes erupting in Indonesia as Indonesia itself is in the Pacific Ring of Fire, an area known having many active volcanoes and a high number of earthquakes. The Semeru Volcano, the highest volcano in Java erupted on April 11. Kerinci Volcano located in West Sumatra, erupted on March 30. The Ibu volcano of North Moluccas erupted on April 12. The Dukono volcano located in North Moluccas erupted on March 26. The Merapi volcano on the border of the provinces of Central Java and Yogyakarta, erupted on the morning of March 29.

“Volcanic eruptions in Indonesia are a common thing as they happen every day,” Kasbani said.

The true affects of these eruptions are yet to be determined. It can be said that the PVMBG is making efforts to calm the public. Although there are no current casualties, experts are still analyzing the situation.