Tuesday 20 November 2012

Eruption on Mount Paluweh.

Paluweh (or Rokatenda) is an island volcano 10 km off the north coast of Flores Island. It rises 875 m above sea level, or roughly 3000 m above the sea floor, forming a flattened conical island 8 km wide. The volcano is fairly active, having erupted seven times in the twentieth century, although it is likely that other eruptions occurred and were missed, due to the remote nature of the island. The largest recorded eruption occurred in 1928, when an explosive eruption caused a massive landslide, triggering a tsunami that killed 160-300 people.

Paluweh Island. Mangiwau/Flikr.

On 11 to 13 November 2012, the Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre reported a plume rising 2.4 km above the island which drifted 90-150 km to the northwest. According to the Jakarta Post 196 people have left the island, out of a population of roughly 6000, and 109 of these have needed hospital treatment for respiratory conditions.

Ash column apparently rising from a side vent on Paluweh. Noticieros Televisa.

Flores (and Paluweh) sits on the northern part of the Timor Microplate; a small fragment of crust caught between the Banda Sea Plate to the north and the Australian plate to the south. Both these other plates are subducting beneath the Timor Plate, and as they sink into the Earth, melted by the friction and the heat of the planets interior. Some of this melted material then rises through the overlying plate, fueling the volcanoes of Flores and Timor.

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