26 January 2001
The show started at 2300 on the 25th when the fog cleared and gave a non stop pyroclastic flow display for about 4 hours before the mist closed in again permanantly, it seems, it is now 1500 on the 26th and there is still no visibility. The seismograph, however has been quite active so it seems the activity continues, loud rockfall and PF is heard frequently.
25 January 2001
0200hrs local time today in perfect viewing and filming conditions a period of almost continuous activity commenced with pyroclastic flows coming almost constantly for two hours. A pryoclastic flow at night takes on a fantastic appearance as the cloud becomes invisible and it looks like a huge avalanche of glowing rocks floating down the mountain.Occasionly the rock fall could be heard above the annoying sound of 100 people talking and babies crying. Several flows were very large and came almost down to the forest. By the time daylight arrived at about 0545 the show had stopped, the cone remained completely clear for the next fours and it was only when the cloud had almost obscured the mountain completely that the biggest flow of the day came down right into the forest on the Kaliurang side. For the rest of the day
the mountain was not visible at all and rain was intermittant.
24 January 2001
The bad weather finally let up for a couple of hours today to provide a truly spectacular display, dozens of beautiful pyroclastic flows, one after the other for about an hour rolled down the flanks of Merapi toward Kaliurang in perfect viewing and filming conditions. The other good thing was that the hordes of international media that had grumbled about the weather for the last two days had all left about an hour prior to the start of the show, I like it when that happens! The highly unstable lava domes of which there are now two were observed to generate continuous rockfall, some of which developed into pyroclastic flow. Just before 1300 local time while walking past the seismograph room I noticed the needle going haywire, swinging more than an inch either side of the line. As the summit area was in cloud I waited for a PF to emerge, when it did it was the biggest I have seen so far and heading directly towards us! Panic ensued and people were yelling into loudspeakers and running everywhere. I calmly continued filming knowing that I could run into the underground bunker built specifically for surviving such events in the last few seconds, most people ran past it and off down the road, (they must have thought they could outrun it!) Fortunately a ridge about 1 kilometre from us stopped it from getting to us. Several still photographers have ventured further up the mountain for better photos but I declined to join them, I prefer to be alive for the next eruption.
Photo 1: Pyroclastic flow Jan 24 0900hrs
Photo 2: Pyroclastic flow Jan 24 0900hrs
23 January 2001
A very frustrating day at Merapi, although at 0900 local time today I observed and filmed 3 fast moving pyroclastic flows within 5 minutes but that was it, the whole day provided only 20 minutes of partial view of the cone, and for about 1 minute of that time the summit lava dome was visible, through the telephoto lens of the camera pieces of the unstable dome were observed continually peeling off. Bad weather and torrential rain prevented any further observation of the activity and continued into the night.
The observatory seismograph showed that activity was ongoing and frequent rockfall and pyroclastic flow were heard from Babadan Observatory.
Possibly due to the storm activity electricity supply here is intermittant at best and it is off more often than it is going so at some point my updates may cease.
22 January 2001
Merapi Update, observations from Babadan, bad weather is preventing all but fleeting views of the cone now but observatory staff have observed 45 pyroclastic flows today from daylight up to the onset of bad weather. I observed two just before 1500 local time.
22 January 2001
I arrived last night to see reports on the TV news of a bus being blown up in Jakarta, (maybe it fell apart) then moved on to Yogyakarta to land in failing light and a violent thunderstorm, (as usual bad weather comes when I don't want it) despite this, the pilot made a perfect landing...a quick trip to the hotel in a taxi with 15 near misses with oncoming trucks buses, motorbikes etc......ah, it is good to be back in Indonesia.
Mt Merapi is clearly visible this morning from Yogyakarta and looks quiet at present.
I will be driving to Babadan today to camp at the Volcano Observatory.
Mobile internet connnections here seem to be working flawlessly so if the big one comes I expect to be able to post live photographs on this page.