Volcano Case Study (Mt Merapi)

Location

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Mount Merapi is located in South East Asia in the country of Indonesia.  It is North of Yogyakarta and West of Solo on the island of Java.  It is 1,700m high and has been erupting regularly since the 1500s.

Causes

Image courtesy of boston.com

The volcano and its eruptions were caused by the Indo-Australian Plate being subducted beneath the Eurasian Plate.  The volcano is located on a destructive plate margin at a subduction zone and is part of the Pacific Ring of Fire.

Effects

Primary (caused directly by the volcano)

Secondary (result from primary effects)

Volcanic bombs and hot gases of up to 800°C spread over 11km away Vegetable prices increased because of the damage to crops
Pyroclastic flows spread 3km down the mountain Emergency shelters had to be moved over 15km away
Ash fell up to 30km away and 5km into the sky.  15km away, villages were under 30cm of ash Danger area extended to 20km from the mountain and 278,000 people living in this area had to flee their homes
Sulphur Dioxide was blown across Indonesia and as far South as Australia Planes were grounded in Western Australia because of the risk of damage to aircraft from the ash cloud
Ash, rock and lava deposited on the sides of the volcano is still being washed down into towns by rainfall creating lahar (a mudflow that often flows along river valleys)

Impacts

Positive

Negative

Ash from the volcano will eventually lead to more fertile soils in the area 273 people were killed and 577 people were injured
A conservation area has been set up around the volcano where it is unsafe to live The evacuation centres were overcrowded leading to poor sanitation, no privacy and serious disease risk
People, particularly farmers, lost their homes and livelihoods
360,000 people were displaced from their homes

Responses

Short Term

Long Term

210 evacuation centres were set up either as tents, in schools, churches, stadiums or government offices Formal evacuation centres were eventually set up because buildings, such as schools and government offices, were needed for their official uses
1,600 people, either volunteers or military, were part of the national aid response 2,682 people have had to be moved to new, safer houses permanently
International aid was offered from organisations such as the Red Cross The government is making money available to farmers to help replace their livestock
The government has set up a special task force to support people that have been affected by the volcano either by family issues, or because they have lost their jobs

Links

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