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Tags Current Affairs

Eruption of Mount Sinabung

Date: 12 August 2020 Tags: Geography & Environment

Issue

Indonesia’s Mount Sinabung volcano on North Sumatra island has erupted, sending a column of ash and smoke more than 16,000 feet into the air. The volcano became active in 2010, erupting after nearly 400 years of inactivity.

 

Background

 There were 17 volcanoes across the world with continuing eruptions. As per USGS, there are about 1,500 potentially active volcanoes worldwide.

 

Details

  • Indonesia is home to many active volcanoes, due to its position on the Ring of Fire, or the Circum-Pacific Belt, which is an area along the Pacific Ocean characterised by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

  • The Ring of Fire is home to about 75 percent of the world’s volcanoes and about 90 percent of its earthquakes.

  • The ash from Monday’s explosion covered three districts and turned the sky dark. More eruptions are likely in the coming days.

  • Eruptive phase for the volcano began in September 2013, which continued uninterrupted until June 2018. During the 2018 eruption, the volcano released ash 5-7 km into the air, coating villages.

  • A volcano can be active, dormant or extinct. An eruption takes place when magma (a thick flowing substance), formed when the earth’s mantle melts, rises to the surface.

  • Because magma is lighter than solid rock, it is able to rise through vents and fissures on the surface of the earth. After it has erupted, it is called lava.

  • Not all volcanic eruptions are explosive, since explosivity depends on the composition of the magma. When the magma is runny and thin, gases can easily escape it, in which case, the magma will flow out towards the surface.

  • On the other hand, if the magma is thick and dense, gases cannot escape it, which builds up pressure inside until the gases escape in a violent explosion.

  • People living in areas close to the volcano, or in low-lying areas downwind, are at higher risk in case of an explosion since the ash may be gritty and abrasive and small ash particles can scratch the surface of the eyes.

  • Further, volcanic eruptions can result in additional threats to health such as floods, mudslides, power outages, drinking water contamination, and wildfires.

  • One reason why volcanic eruptions can be dangerous in places such as Indonesia, Guatemala and the Philippines is that in these countries, large populations are packed on and around volcanoes.

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