Banda Api volcano news & activity updates:
Banda Api volcano (Banda Sea, Indonesia): increased earthquakes suggest volcano might be preparing for new eruption
Mon, 10 Apr 2017, 08:4008:40 AM | BY: T
The Indonesian Volcanological Survey (VSI) raised the alert level for the remote volcano from normal (level 1) to "waspada" ("watch", 2 on a scale of 1-4).
Seismic activity of Banda Api volcano since January 2017 (light green: deep volcanic quakes)
The decision was based on geophysical monitoring data that suggests that the volcano, which had been dormant since its last eruption in 1988 has become restless and could be preparing for a new eruption in the medium-term future (months or years from now).
In particular, seismic activity has increased since late Feb / early March this year. Several moderately large earthquakes have occurred in the area during the past weeks, and several shocks were felt by the small population of the island. The most recent increase of seismic activity which triggered the raise in alert status was a local earthquake on 4 April.
For now, most seismic activity has been deep and not showing characteristics of magma movement at shallow depths inside the volcanic edifice, which would be expected if an eruption was imminent.
Bada Api is one of the most active volcanoes in the region, and according to PVMBG, the current situation resembles the period that preceded the large May 1988 eruption.
Back then, seismic activity increased gradually in a similar way. The eruption itself began with the opening of a fissure that ruptured the island, generated strong explosions followed by the effusion of large lava flows. The lava flow on the northern side completely destroyed the village of Batu Angus.
At the moment, an eruption is not expected to be immediate, but the situation needs close following as it could well evolve into stronger unrest, and eventually, a new eruption. A safety zone of 1 km radius around the summit was recommended. This is actually the largest part of the 3 km diameter island itself and affects 600 out of the 1000 inhabitants.
At this moment, no evacuations are done, and authorities focus on informing people about the possible need for evacuations should the volcanic unrest escalate. A special warning was given for the coast where an elevated risk of tsunamis (in the event of earthquakes, sudden landslides etc) is present.