Volcanologists warn another eruption on Bali is looming

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December 08, 2017
Mount Agung ash cloud
Mount Agung's ash cloud at dawn; Credit Håkon Eugen Gustavsen

Volcanologists have warned that Bali’s Mount Agung volcano is still active and holidaymakers need to take precautions as another eruption looms.

As seismic activity increases one US-based Dr Janine Krippner said that “volcanic activity is still high and Mount Agung is rated at Level 4 – the highest level.”

“Travellers need to take eye protection, [such as eye goggles], and face masks,” Dr Krippner said.

See video of Virgin Australia’s ash assessment process.

Others say that the warning signs are building.

However, Dr Krippner cautions on “experts” who claim to know what will happen.

“No professional volcanologist will give statements with any certainty about what Agung will do. Someone speaking with certainty is a Red flag (other than the local officials),” Dr Kippner said.

The warnings come as the Mount Agung starts to emit small bursts of ash rather than just venting steam.

Airlines are monitoring the volcano around the clock and said that the renewed activity “is of concern.”

Seismograph of Mount Agung
Seismograph of Mount Agung taken on December 8 at 1pm local time

Volcanologists do not have any comparable seismic data for Mount Agung’s last series of eruptions in 1963, but say the pattern appears similar.

The eruption of 1963 was one of the most devastating in Indonesia’s history and the major blast on March 17 was proceeded by two much smaller eruptions on February 18 and 24.

There was a fourth eruption on May 16, 1963.

The activity continued for a year.

Mount Agung came to life in mid-September with tremors building to a peak in October before subsiding.

The volcano erupted on November 21 with mostly steam created by the lava heating up the water in the crater but that turned to a magmatic event on November 25.

Bali’s airport was closed the next day and stayed closed for several days.

After almost a week of remaining relatively quiet the volcano’s tremors have increased significantly in number and intensity prompting volcanologist to warn of a bigger eruption to come.

“Asthma sufferers ought to seriously consider traveling to Bali,” said Dr Krippner.

“This is a personal decision but travelers must be aware of the risks and take precautions.”

The Singapore Government has told its nationals not to travel to Bali.

Australia’s DFAT’s advice remains one of caution.

It urges tourists to monitor the media and other sources of information, such Magma Indonesia and Indonesia’s Disaster Management Authority and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre.

It also warns to expect delays and disruptions to transport and tourism services and urges tourists to take extra funds.