Friday 13 September 2013

Eruption on Batu Tara.

The Darwin Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre reports an eruption on the island volcano Batu Tara, one of the Lesser Sunda Islands in the Flores Sea, producing a 2.1 km ash column on the morning of Friday 13 September 2013. This follows a series of eruptions over the previous two days, which had produced ash columns as high as 4.2 km. Batu Tara, which has been in an almost constant state of eruption since 2006, also produced ash columns in excess of 2 km on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th of September 2013.

Image of an eruption on Batu Tara taken by NASA's Earth Observing-1 Satellite in August 2006. Earth Observatory.

Batu Tara is a small island volcano rising 748 m above the Flores Sea in Indonesia, about 50 km north of Lembata. It is the tip of a stratovolcano (cone-shaped volcano made up of layers of ash and lava) which rises from the seafloor 3000 m below. The nature and frequency of eruptions on Batu Tara, combined with its position directly between Jakarta and Sidney, means that it frequently causes problems for aircraft, which need to be diverted around any ash clouds. This can add significantly to flight times, and therefore costs.

Batu Tara is located to the north of the Flores Thrust, where the Timor Microplate is being subducted beneath the Banda Sea Plate (part of the collisional area between the Australian and Eurasian Plates). As this happens the Timor Plate is forced down into the Earth's interior, where it is partially melted by the heat. Melted material then rises through the overlying Banda Sea Plate, fueling the volcanoes located upon it.

The approximate location of Batu Tara. Google Maps.

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