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Eruption of the Merapi volcano

5 November 2010

Nightly image of Merapi
© Adek Berry, AFP/Getty Images
After several days of activity, the Merapi volcano on the Indonesian island of Java showed its most powerful eruption in decades, causing devestation in the area surrounding the mountain. Large amounts of steam and ash were ejected as high as 16 km, according to the Volcanic ash advisory center in Darwin, Australia (Darwin VAAC). This poses a possible danger to air traffic in the region.

Ash and sulphur dioxide (SO2) emitted by the volcano are monitored using satellite measurements as part of the SACS service*, jointly operated by BIRA-IASB, KNMI, ULB and DLR. Large SO2 gas concentrations can cause damage to airplanes; futhermore it is an indicator of the presence of ash. Large ash clouds as emitted by Merapi can lead to engine failure.


Merapi SO2 emission of 5 November 2010
Sulphur dioxide (SO2) emission from the Merapi volcano as observed by the GOME-2 instrument.
(Click image to enlarge).


* The Support to Aviation Control Service (SACS) hosted by BIRA-IASB aims at supporting the Volcanic Ash Advisory Centers, the official organizations responsible for gathering information on volcanic clouds. This is achieved by delivering near-real time data derived from satellite measurements regarding volcanic emissions, and in case of volcanic eruptions to send out alerts by email to interested parties.


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For more information, please contact : Nicolas Theys or Michel Van Roozendael

Last update on 22 Mar 2013