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Bali's Mount Agung on the verge of erupting

Mt Agung on 27th Nov. 2017 (Michael W. Ishak)Mt Agung on 27th Nov. 2017 (Michael W. Ishak)A massive eruption of Mount Agung volcano on the Indonesian island of Bali could happen any time, scientists say. It has been giving off volcanic ash with increasing intensity since 21st November 2017. Minor eruptions, blasting out pale grey plumes of ash and steam (caused by magma heating water), occurred at first. A more recent plume, rising nearly three kilometres (two miles) into the atmosphere, is darker grey, indicating it is being driven by the magma itself—molten rock rising up the inside of the volcano. A glowing ring of red-hot lava inside the crater of Mount Agung is now clearly visible. It is another sign that there will be an eruption soon.

Mt Agung (Photo: Everyone Sinks Starco)Mt Agung (Photo: Everyone Sinks Starco)
Approximately 100,000 people in 22 villages within the 10-kilometre (6-mile) “red” danger zone around the volcano have been told to leave immediately. Some 40,000 people have already moved away and the airport has been closed (volcanic ash can affect planes’ engines), causing tens of thousands of travellers to be stranded. The main hazard of a large eruption are the high-speed avalanches of hot rocks, dust and gas, known as pyroclastic flows, that surge down the volcano’s slopes. Mudflows, known as lahars, are also a threat.

Diagram of inside of a volcano Diagram of inside of a volcano
Mount Agung began experiencing high seismic activity in September 2017: hundreds of earthquakes took place inside the volcanic cone, caused by the movement of magma. Scientists warned that the increase in the quakes' force and intensity—and the fact that they are occurring nearer and nearer the surface—indicated that an eruption was imminent. Emissions of gas from the deep crater at Agung's summit and bulging on the volcano’s sides were both further signs that magma was being forced up towards the top of the volcano, releasing gas and steam as it did so.

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