Image of the Day: Indonesia’s Deadly Merapi Volcano


This NASA satellite image shows lava flowing from the Indonesian volcano that has already killed more than 250 people. Taken from the ASTER instrument on Nasa's Terra satellite, the image shows evidence of a large pyroclastic flow along the Gendol River south of Mount Merapi in Indonesia. Light gray volcanic deposits fill the course of the river south of the volcano. The dark gray area closer to the volcano is where a pyroclastic flow spread across the landscape, causing almost total devastation.

A pyroclastic flow is a super-heated fluid mass of rock fragments and gas that moves rapidly in the wake of a volcanic eruption. They can move at more than 100 miles per hour and can be heated up to 800 degrees. Within this dark gray area, most of the trees were knocked down and the ground was coated by ash and rock.

The notoriously unpredictable volcano in the heart of Java island roared back to life on October 26th, killing more than 259 people in a series of eruptions.Thousands of villagers returned to ash-covered homes along the slopes of Indonesia's most volatile volcano on Monday after the government said some areas well away from the fiery crater appeared out of danger from another eruption.

Merapi was still rumbling and spewing searing ash and debris yesterday but activity has dropped sharply in recent days.

After spending nearly three weeks in crowded emergency camps, the villagers headed up Mount Merapi loaded down with mats, blankets and clothes to find almost everything they had was gone, said Lilik Sujati, the chief of Jati, a village on Mount Merapi.



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