There has been quite a bit of action in the Mt Agung saga since our last update with some confusing new activity happening. Earlier this month the authorities downgraded the warning level of Agung from Level 4 (imminent) to Level 3 (High Alert) and allowed some of the people who were evacuated to go home. This was people outside of the 6km exclusion zone, anywhere within 6km was still under mandatory evacuation. The daily earthquake count which peaked in October with 600-1000 small tremors each day gradually slowed into November to less than 100 per day. This was still far from normal but areas such as Tulamben were able to open resorts and diving was back to normal. The volcano was giving small spurts of steam out of the top
On the 21st of November there was a larger cloud of steam and ash seen erupting from the crater. This was what was termed as Phreatic Activity, which means an eruption that occurs as a result of magma coming into contact with water. In other words, think of pouring water on a big wood fire, when you do this a large cloud of steam erupts. A phreatic steam cloud can also include some ash and small rocks as the eruption does have the potential to be big. However, the one on the 21st was not a large eruption and looked bigger to the eye than it was in reality. There was no upgrade in the status of the volcano which remained at Level 3 and there was only a minor increase in small tremor activity.
25 November Larger Activity
Photo from Bali Volcano Possible Eruption FB group via the Youtube LIve Camera
On the 25th of November there was a much larger phreatic eruption which started around 6pm local time. This eruption resulted in some amazing photographs being circulated on social media. As the night progressed there is evidence that a magma eruption started with red glow from lava evident in the dark. Many international flights were diverted or canceled during the night as it was not possible to see exactly where the ash cloud was heading. Around 6am on the 26th of November there was another larger eruption during day light hours that was widely captured on photo and video and posted on social media. The authorities also posted updates stating that these eruptions have now started the magma phase, meaning that magma/lava is now in the mountain itself.
However, the increase of tremor activity has only been small so far and the Alert Level is still at Level 3. What does this mean? The experts on the ground don’t believe a large magma driven eruption is imminent as the bigger pre-cursor of a large eruption is typically tremor activity. However, no one can state for certain if or when Agung may erupt in a major explosive event.
How is Tourism Affected Now?
At the moment tourism activity is normal (except for a few canceled flights last night), now the airport is open and the vast majority of flights are operating. However, the VONA status (flight warnings for aircraft) is now at the highest level but the wind is heading to the SE so ash has not been affecting the flight path of planes. The diving area of Tulamben is operating as normal, Tulamben is approximately 12 km from the mountain so they are not under mandatory evacuation. Reports on the ground from friends in Tulamben is that there are no tremors like in September and October. Obviously the operators in the area are on high alert though and will evacuate if the level is upgraded. There were some evacuations last night and this morning from areas closer to the volcano and all of these were orderly.
That is about all we know at the moment, we will of course update if/when more activity starts.
This is a translated version of an update from local authorities of the status of the volcano
Here are a few links to look at to keep informed of what is going on: