HomeOutdoorsNewsIndonesia’s Mount Semeru Erupts Again on Nation’s Most Densely Populated Island

Indonesia’s Mount Semeru Erupts Again on Nation’s Most Densely Populated Island

by Caitlin Berard
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Towering 12,000 feet above the scattered villages of eastern Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, looms Mount Semeru, the country’s tallest volcano. Since 1818, the enormous volcano has erupted at least 55 times, with 11 of those resulting in fatalities.

From 1967 to now, Semeru has been in a near-constant state of eruption, threatening millions of lives across the island of Java. And on Sunday, Mount Semeru erupted once again, molten lava spewing from its mouth after recent monsoon rains destroyed the lava dome.

Nearly 2,000 people residing within the shadow of Semeru were forced to flee as the deadly mountain shot volcanic ash and poisonous gasses 5,000 feet into the air, the ash covering nearby villages in a thick layer of grey. Authorities soon announced that anyone within five miles of Mount Semeru should seek shelter, the residents leaving their homes behind for temporary shelters and safer grounds.

In addition, authorities warned residents to avoid the southeastern section of the Besuk Kobokan River, as they expected the slow-moving river of lava would soon reach the area.

Mount Semeru Belongs to the Infamous ‘Ring of Fire’

Sunday’s eruption comes a year to the day from the last deadly event. In December 2021, a violent eruption from Mount Semeru left more than 50 people dead, the villages closest to the volcano buried under ash and mud. Just two weeks later, Semeru unleashed another massive column of ash and toxic gas.

In total, more than 10,000 people had no choice but to evacuate as the enormous plume of ash blocked out the sun and lava poured from the mouth of Mount Semeru toward their homes. Thankfully, no casualties have been reported from the recent eruption as of now.

Though Semeru poses a continuous threat to all those living near it, tens of thousands of residents continue to live on the mountain’s life-threatening but fertile slopes. Despite the ever-present dangers of ash and lava, volcanic deposits enrich the soil, creating an ideal environment for farmers.

Indonesia, a group of islands housing some 270 million people, rests firmly in the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” making earthquakes and volcanic activity a certainty for its residents. Stretching almost 25,000 miles, the Ring of Fire contains a staggering 75% of Earth’s volcanoes.

Ninety percent of earthquakes occur within the Ring of Fire as well, including the most violent on record. Both the volcanoes and the earthquakes are the result of tectonic plates in the area. Deep beneath the surface, tectonic plates overlap, their movement causing both volcanic eruptions and devastating seismic events.