Indonesian Volcano ‘Anak Krakatau’ Fired Lava and Ash Into the Sky Last Weekend

This eruption is the longest since 2018 when the volcano caused a deadly tsunami

Anak Krakatau
Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau in Lampung erupted on April 10, 2020 sending a column of ash up to 1,640 feet high. Courtesy of PVMBG

Indonesia’s Anak Krakatau volcano blasted a thick, gray cloud of ash some 1,640 feet skyward over the weekend in the longest-lasting eruption since 2018, reports Edna Tarigan for the Associated Press.

Indonesia has not reported any damages or deaths so far, according to a statement from the country’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation. The country issued a level 2 alert, the second-highest on a scale of four. Level 2 alerts indicate “watch” status, meaning the volcano is “exhibiting heightened or escalating unrest with increased potential of eruption, timeframe uncertain, or an eruption is underway but poses limited hazards,” according to the United States Geological Survey.

Anak Krakatau is a volcanic island in the Sunda Strait between the Java and Sumatra islands in Indonesia’s Lampung province, which is home to about 8 million people. By Saturday morning, local officials in Lampung reported no scent of sulfur or volcanic ash, which are hallmarks of volcanic activity, and informed residents that volcanic activity at Anak Krakatau had died down, report Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie and Arya Dipa for the Jakarta Post.

On Friday night, Indonesia’s Center for Volcanology and Geological Disaster Mitigation (PVMBG) observed lava spewing from Anak Krakatau’s crater at 9:58 p.m. local time when the first eruption, which lasted one minute and 12 seconds, began. The second eruption reportedly occurred at 10:35 p.m. and lasted 38 minutes and four seconds, reports the Jakarta Post.

Eruption of Krakatau 10-11 April 2020 close up
Krakatau eruption 10-11 April 2020

Eruption activity seemed to fade by Saturday morning at 5:44 a.m., according to a statement from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency.

“[The eruption is] still within the expected level for a disaster-prone area,” Kasbani tells the Jakarta Post. “Continued eruptions could potentially occur, but there has been no detection of volcanic activity that could lead to greater eruption intensity.”

For Lampung residents, minor eruptions and rumblings from Anak Krakatau are rather common; the volcano regularly spits small clouds of ash a few hundred meters into the air for months on end. This weekend’s eruptions were larger than usual but relatively small compared to an eruption in 2018, Kasbani tells the Jakarta Post.

The 2018 eruption caused a massive landslide that collapsed the volcano’s entire southwest flank, quickly giving rise to a tsunami that killed at least 430 people and left thousands more injured along the nearby coasts of Java and Sumatra. The collapse triggered a weeklong spree of thunderstorms “miles into the sky,” reports Maya Wei-Haas for National Geographic. At their peak, the storms unleashed 72 strikes per minute, eventually sparking 100,000 flashes in total.

Anak Krakatau, whose name means “Child of Krakatau,” emerged following the cataclysmic eruption of Mount Krakatau (often misspelled Krakatoa) in 1883. That historic eruption caused another massive tsunami that left at least 36,000 people dead, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

Ash from the eruption covered an area of 300,000 square miles in the sky and eventually triggered a period of global cooling. When the dust settled, all that was left of Krakatau was a massive crater—until 1927, when its offspring released its first blast on the seafloor. Two years later, Anak Krakatau peaked its cone above the water’s surface for the first time, and it’s been active sporadically ever since.

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