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September 7, 2010 / Dave Gorham

Mt. Sinabung Today

Mt. Sinabung has had several eruptions since we blogged about the volcano last week. To further emphasize the area’s instability, seismologists in the area recorded 52 earthquakes in a 12-hour period between Friday, 9/03 and Saturday, 9/04. I spoke with Fred Schmude, one of our senior meteorologists and our resident geology expert, a few moments ago:

Volcano Sinabung on Friday, 9/03. Photo: CNN

“These are minor eruptions compared to what could be coming. When a volcano springs back to life, usually it goes through a phase of increased eruptive firepower.  What’s concerning about with this volcano is that the magma has high levels of silica, which is a key ingredient necessary for a huge explosion.  It’s kind of like loading a stick of dynamite with extra gun powder.  Since so little is known about this volcano, I’m concerned we may end up with a Sub Plinian or Plinian type of eruption with the a potential ash cloud blasting through the stratosphere perhaps as high as 100,000 to 150,000 feet.  Some of the  great volcanoes in the world are located in this section of the planet and include Tambora (1815), Krakatoa (1883) and Toba.  Tambora dropped the temperature of the planet by 2-3 degrees Celcius while Toba caused mass extinctions and likely created a massive decline in temperatures [Toba Catastrophe Theory].  I’m not [suggesting] anything like that of course, but based on the history of this area, recent trends and magma composition, I would be concerned.”

Mt. Sinabung last erupted in 1600. Officials acknowledged that they haven’t been paying attention to Sinabung because it’s been dormant for so long.

You can read Fred’s comments about Sinabung from last week’s YourWeatherBlog here.

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