Mt. Agung is a closed system volcano which never had a history of being recorded with the use of instrumentation during an active phase. Thus, scientists are literally now recording Mt. Agung’s in-depth volcanological history for the first time ever. As such, the day-to-day changes that a huge, 3142 meters high, geologically stratified mass can undergo is fascinating.
It was a challenge to visualize the 39 million cubic meters of active magma inside the mountain’s belly, and that is now just 4km from the crater’s surface. Furthermore, it doubled to this amount on the 9th of November, signaled a strong, Richter scale 5+ local tectonic quake that woke up a ton of the island’s population on the same day at 5:56 in the morning.
Right before that, we were lulled by the significant drop in seismic activity and the alert level being brought down to 3 from 4. After a thousand tremors a day, one or two hundred tremors can seem like nothing. The volcanologists up in Rendang, however, have been intently watching, and have been joined by several members of the USGS from the States.
Apparently, Mt. Agung is apparently a huge new mine of data for volcanologists out there, its characteristics are so particular and its potential force so powerful that it’s being watched with great interest by a ton of international volcanologists. In Rendang, however, though they’re perforce only welcoming USGS scientists in – one can imagine what a circus it would become if they threw the doors open to everyone.
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The biggest physical change that has happened is that we have had phreatomagmatic and magmatic eruptions from Mt. Agung. Albeit effusive so far and not explosive, clouds of ash has risen up to 3500m into the sky and have temporarily disrupted air traffic to Ngurah Rai airport. The crater is 2/3 full of lava; however, it’s cooling down for the time being. There is lahar flows coming down sporadically off the mountain.
On the side of humanity, the ‘KRD’ 3 affected areas have had ash fall and have become largely uninhabitable. Sure, people still make forays where the infamous quarries are, and trucks continue to operate but in a limited way. The atmosphere is quite bleak at the moment.