Massive volcano eruptions in Indonesia

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

Ring of Fire
This is the Ring of Fire. Indonesia, which is located northwest of Australia, is along the ring.

This past week, two volcanoes in Indonesia exploded, forcing people to evacuate and airplanes to be rerouted. Both Mount Merapi and Mount Sinabung erupted within hours of each other, and experts say they could do so again at any moment.

There are two main ways that volcanoes can be formed. In the first, one of the Earth’s tectonic plates slips underneath another. Afterwards, it heats up and becomes magma – melted material underneath Earth’s crust. Pressure continues to build until it explodes through the crust. In the second process, one of Earth’s tectonic plates moves over a volcanic hotspot and magma forces its way through the crust.

Unfortunately for Indonesia, it’s home to 129 active volcanoes! In fact, the country is located on a region known as the “Ring of Fire” – a basin around the Pacific Ocean where earthquakes and volcanic explosions are extremely common. However, these volcanic blasts can still come as a surprise to Indonesian citizens. See, Mount Sinabung had been inactive for almost 400 years until a series of explosions began several years ago, with two particular large ones taking place this past week.

Recently, Mount Sinabung spewed ash, lava, and other debris about 4 miles into the air, creating a speeding avalanche down the mountain. Meanwhile, Mount Merapi shot lava and ash over a mile into the sky. According to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency chief Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, the eruption was triggered by small earthquakes.

Around 5,000 people who were evacuated recently were stopped from returning home, and airplane flights are being directed away from the flowing ash.

Featured image courtesy of Oliver Spalt on Wikipedia.