In News

As news about volcanic activity of Mount Agung spread, Surono (62) a well-known expert in volcanology and geophysics in Indonesia was the go-to man, especially by the media, for analysis and opinion.

Mbah Rono, as he is familiarly called, was the spokesperson during the eruption of Mount Merapi, Yogyakarta, in 2010. At that time he served as Head of PVMBG (Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation).

Surono, who holds a doctorate from Savoei University, Chambery, France, was in Bali yesterday, accompanied by an entourage from the Ministry of Maritime Coordination and visited the Tanah Ampo evacuation post in Karangasem.

On the sidelines of the visit, Tribun Bali interviewed Mbah Rono about the increased activity of Mount Agung.

Tribun Bali (TB): If Mount Agung erupts, what do you estimate will be the power of explosion?

Surono (S) Well, it could be the same as the eruption of 1963. But it could be different too. It could be smaller or bigger or may not even erupt at all.

TB: Why wouldn’t it erupt?

S: It doesn’t depend on the number of earthquakes. If the earthquakes happen frequently and the gas escapes it won’t erupt. There are many parameters to look at. The earthquakes are just a sign that the volcanic activity is high. The status of the mountain’s activity does not automatically become a reference for predicting an eruption time and the enormity of the eruption, even though the earthquakes and volcanic activity inside the crater increase.

TB: From the signs of monitoring results of the Mount Agung activity, is it possible to conclude how close Mount Agung is to erupting?

S: It’s not possible. The warnings by the authorities such as Beware, Standby, Alert or Normal, aren’t to predict when the mountain will erupt and how big eruption will be. The level of mountain activity is higher, but whether there will actually be an explosion we don’t know. So, even though the magma starts rising upward, does that mean the mountain should erupt? Not necessarily.

TB: So it might not erupt, what does that mean?

S: It could just melt (red volcanic material). That means it does erupt, but not exploding like the blast of a neighbor’s stove.

TB: If it did erupt, what is the impact?

S: The direct impact won’t exceed the 9 kilometer radius and the maximum sectoral expansion is 12 kilometers from the mountain. Yes, as the government has already announced. Therefore, all residents in the danger zone must be evacuated. Do not wonder inside that zone, don’t take any chances.

TB: It has been mentioned that the power of the eruption of Mount Agung in 1963 was 10 times the eruption of Mount Merapi in Yogya in 2010. Is that true sir? What is the probability of the power of eruption if Mount Agung erupts?

S: Yes it could be bigger than Merapi, and it also could be smaller. The Merapi eruption alone was larger than other recent eruptions. Yes, if Mount Agung erupted and the eruption was as before, those who fled 9 kilometers or maximum 12 kilometers from the mountain are safe.

TB: How many degrees Celsius is the temperature of magma moving up to the surface of Mount Agung?

S: The temperature of magma beneath Bali is maybe 1,000 degrees Celsius or up to 1,300 degrees. As it continues moving up it would definitely cool down. I do not know how much cooler, but the liquid may be 1,100 degrees.

TB: What substances or elements are contained in the Mount Agung magma?

S: Just like any other volcano. Mount Agung is standard just like other volcanoes. There is sulfur, CO2, magma, and silica too. It is no different from other volcanoes.

TB: Are there gases contained in magma?

S: Almost every volcano contains gases. Because there is heat, the heat becomes cold, the magma cools, the gas escapes. There is sulfur gas, PU gas, CO2, all kinds of gases.

Warming Up

Solfatara smoke was observed coming from Mount Agung from Sunday morning.

The emergence of a cloud of white smoke from the crater indicates the occurrence of continuous heating.

“Earlier this morning we saw a cloud of white smoke from the crater, indicating continuous warming, as the magma approaches the surface, it heats the water first into steam. This is what is appearing,” Surono explained.

Visual monitoring of Mount Agung at the Observation Post in Rendang at 7am this morning showed that white smoke was clearly visible on Mount Agung although covered by a thin mist.

Since 11.20am the mountain has not been visible as it is covered with thick clouds of fog.

Image: Geomagz

Showing 34 comments
  • Robb Harker
    Reply

    Glad we cleared that up, thanks.

  • Remco Koster
    Reply

    Could be bigger, the same, smaller or could not happen; so he says nothing at all

  • Stuart Beat
    Reply

    Which probably means no one knows for sure what’s going to happen next. Welcome to Bali

    • James Clark
      Reply

      Hahahaha brings back memories. But that’s part of Bali’s charm, no?

    • Stuart Beat
      Reply

      One of the reasons we love the place for sure

    • Paul Friese
      Reply

      Damn another genius statement. Buy yourself a drink!

  • Beverley Monks
    Reply

    Well that is clear as mud, we will have to wait and see then

  • Mike O'Leary
    Reply

    Expert = xspirt = x is the unknown quantity and a spirt is a drip under pressure.

  • Derisha Virianti Aryawan
    Reply

    Well duh! Those are the only possible options. Analysis worse than a kid

  • Arlo Sinclair
    Reply

    Thanks for the clarification.

  • Neil Carl Hempsey
    Reply

    No shit sherlock

  • Peter Buckley
    Reply

    Well,that’s both ends of the spectrum ..thanks experts ..

  • Ian Johansson
    Reply

    From our villa staff that has family still residing deep in the evacuation zone we’ve received reports that the tremors were much less last night. Let’s keep fingers crossed. The red zone around Agung contains some of the poorest and most fragile communities in Bali.

  • Kumar H Subramaniam
    Reply

    Wow..d experts certainly covered their ass..time to download d movie with pierce brosnan as d vucanlogist..anyone remember d film’s title?

  • Quenten Smith
    Reply

    Such an Indo overview…. Love it. Give the man a tea and a Gudang!

  • Kerry Ould
    Reply

    So thats the expert yikes

  • Stuart Beat
    Reply

    Probably the only honest opinion you’ll get on it at the moment folks

    • Mike Pohorly
      Reply

      Yes and he did say that no matter what it wouldn’t exceed the 9 to 12 km radius….so that’s something isn’t it? And in a way what he is saying is hopeful as well… that it may not erupt at all…

    • Stuart Beat
      Reply

      Mike Pohorly Yes that’s the way I read it too

  • Steven Ward
    Reply

    I’m so glad they asked an expert about this

  • Eric Shammaa
    Reply

    Jeffrey Wolpert Marc Vann

  • Wilford Jones
    Reply

    Such is the science of nature. Science will only give you so many answers and the rest is up to ahhh…. Nature

  • Juli Handayani Ks
    Reply

    Thats like saying a maybe we don’t need expert then

    • Stuart Beat
      Reply

      Has to be better than getting fake news saying it’s blowing tonight

  • Mark Marzuki Philip Skinner
    Reply

    Is Rinjani smoking, if not then omg look out!

  • Ole Petter Høie
    Reply

    I guess the summary is: Panic first, find out if that made sense later…Hoping for the best either way, to me it’s just a tad annoying that the government, media, social media and help organizations go bananas even without knowing whether there is a real threat or not. And it really doesn’t seem as if the threat is anywhere close to relating to the hysteria at hand, something I am sure we all hope will be the truth.

    • Ian Johansson
      Reply

      Sounds like words from the comfy chair! If you lived on the slopes of Agung, as thousands do, you’d be pissing your pants these days, mate!

    • Stuart Beat
      Reply

      Not sure if ‘pissing ones pants’ is the term you’re looking for Ian, but the one’s making the decisions in Denpasar are sitting between a rock and a hard place on this and you’d have to err on the side of caution, for want of better platitudes, Ole

    • Ole Petter Høie
      Reply

      My comment wasn’t meant to offend those who suffer fear or actual practical issues in that area, I am sure they are struggling at this time. I just find the hysteria among so many people who haven’t even been there and thus don’t really know what’s going on is a bit annoying, especially considering that there is a pretty big possibility that very little will happen. There are millions of people around the world who suffer from wars and other man made disasters that those same hysterical people don’t pay any attention to. And I find it amusing that people say that everyone has to help because the authorities aren’t able to take care of the situation, yet they also say that we all have to follow the advice of the authorities, because they know what needs to be done. Anyway, let’s hope there will be no eruption, it seems likely that this is a false alarm.

    • Stuart Beat
      Reply

      Nothing is likely. According to this article there is no guarantee of it erupting or not right now. Unfortunately we are in limbo until the great Agung plays his hand. Let’s hope it’s quick whatever it is.

  • Marta
    Reply

    I think he has been honest. How can anybody know? Nature is not an exact science. We see signals, but Thanks God, they do not always end up in catastrophe. I think his opinion is wise: so many things ( good or bad) can happen right now… but nevertheless, be prepared in advance for the worst and evacuate the population.

  • John Bergman
    Reply

    That sounds like marriage.

  • Shira Williams
    Reply

    I found helpful info in Suronos comments. Nobody knows what will happen not even the experts.

  • Ståle Corneliussen
    Reply

    I guess the expert is quite right, something very bad can happen, and nothing can happen. We are all hoping that nothing happens, and that mr Agung goes back to sleep. However, some 100 -125000 people are now evacuated, many in official camps, but many with friends and other family, and yet not accounted for. Many people are also refusing to leave, and are still inside the danger zone. We personally know of many of these, and they lack food, water, medicines and so on. Also the word is that masks to protect from ashes are impossible to find. So I do appreciate the attention in media and SoMe. What I do not appreciate is the ones more concerned about their holiday being interrupted then the lives that may be ruined or lost.

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