It’s been a while since we have written any updates about Agung Volcano. The reason for this is that the mountain has been very quiet over the last couple of months. There were a few plumes of ash in December and January but the volcanic activity has been on a downward trend. In December, the “exclusion zone”, the area where no one could enter, was reduced from 12km to 6km. This allowed for thousands of refugees to return home, however, the mountain remained at the highest threat level of 4.
This changed this weekend, the PVMBG, which is the authority which monitors Indonesia’s volcanos, has reduced the warning level from 4 to 3. Along with this reduction, they have reduced the exclusion zone to 4 kilometres from the crater. What does this mean? It means that villagers who live anywhere outside of the 4km zone are now free to return to their homes. This is a key thing because over 20,000 people have still been living in temporary shelters for months on end. There are a few villages which are within the 4k zone and they will be provided with shelter. Many villages which are closer to the crater have suffered damage from lahar (volcanic mud) flows and heavy ash fall.
Tulamben diving is open since the 6km exclusion was announced, however, not all resorts in the area re-opened at the time. This new reduction in the warning level means that the other resorts will now most likely reopen. Flights have been running as normal since the 3 days of airport closure in November, no other airport closures occured.
What is the Difference Between Level III and Level IV at Agung Volcano?
To paraphrase the meaning of the two statuses: Level IV means “Beware: An Eruption Could be Imminent” and Level III means “Stand By: There is a Probability of Volcanic Activity”. How did they arrive at deciding to reduce the warning level? A couple of key points can be found by reading this PDF provided by Jackie Pomeroy on her excellent Facebook Group “Mount Agung Daily Report”. Bali Tribune Article with Translation.
Key points are: frequency of earthquakes over the past month has lessened significantly, the lava dome in the crater has stabilized in size, the mountain itself has deflated in size, and magma movement within the volcano is much less than in September – November.
There still remains volcanic activity within the mountain. The possibility of eruption is still present, therefore the reduction to Level III as opposed to a lower level. However, it’s likely that before an eruption occurs that there will be a rise in warning signs. This will allow for residents to evacuate in a timely manner (although of course this is not guaranteed).
What Does This Mean For Divers?
As mentioned above, diving in the Tulamben area has been open for a few months now and the diving in Amed was never affected. Most resorts are now open for business and The Underwater Tribe have been conducting dives in the Tulamben area since the reduction. We are still suggesting that our guests stay in Amed but we are diving in Tulamben.
Insurance wise, this is also a question that many people are asking, “Is it possible to get Trip Insurance now that the warning level at Agung Volcano has dropped?” This is not an answer that we can give unfortunately, we suggest contacting your regular insurance provider for more information.
In conclusion, now is a great time to visit Bali for diving! Tourist numbers are low and the diving is still as great as ever. With the reduction in divers on sites over the past 4 or 5 months, the sites are better than ever. Feel free to Contact Us today and we can custom create a wonderful Bali Diving Safari for you.