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Cycle 7 (2018 Deadline)

Integrated geoscience studies for hazard mitigation at the Agung-Batur Volcanic System, Bali, Indonesia

PI: Sri Widiyantoro (, Institut Teknologi Bandung (ITB)
U.S. Partner: Jacob Lowenstern, USGS Cascades Volcano Observatory
Dates: November 2018 - October 2020

Project Overview

After more than 50 years of slumber, Agung volcano erupted explosively on November 21, 2017. The eruption followed a seismic crisis that began more than two months prior when nearby earthquakes reached rates greater than 1,000 events per day. During the crisis, Indonesian and USGS/Volcano Disaster Assistance Program (VDAP) partner scientists feared a repeat of the previous eruption in 1963, when more than 1,500 people perished as high-speed pyroclastic flows swept down the mountain’s slopes into nearby settlements. Fortunately, the ongoing eruption of Agung seemed to wane by April 2018 without resulting in any deaths up to that point. Authorities succeeded in evacuating at-risk populations prior to the eruption, and these efforts plus the limited size of the eruption prevented a repeat of the 1963 disaster. Despite this success, the recent eruption of Agung has surprised volcano scientists in several ways. The eruption happened more than a month after the peak in seismicity when earthquake rates were relatively low. When it did occur, it happened without obvious seismic precursors. In addition, although the eruption occurred in the summit crater of Agung, later analysis of satellite data suggests that the intrusion of magma that triggered it actually occurred northwest of the volcano, in between Agung and neighboring Batur caldera. Batur erupts more frequently than Agung, most recently in 1999, and an eruption also occurred just a few months after the 1963 eruption at Agung. The location of the recent magma intrusion and the timing of the 1963 eruptions suggest a link between the two volcanoes. Although the current concern is focused on Agung, renewed unrest at Batur would be equally concerning given the density of the at-risk population in and around the caldera. Together, these two volcanoes present significant hazards to hundreds of thousands of residents and tourists in Bali, and relatively little is known about the magmatic system that will feed future eruptions. With their USGS collaborators, the PI and his team will carry out a suite of geophysical studies to better understand the Agung-Batur volcanic system and the hazards it presents. The main goals of this PEER project are: (i) to better understand the physical processes culminating in the recent eruption of Agung, (ii) to estimate future hazard potential, (iii) to provide additional analysis of the volcanic activity to policymakers, and (iv) to support a campaign of volcanic disaster risk education for the community.

7-304 July Workshop 20197-304 July Workshop 2019 B
Together with the Ministry of Public Works and Housing, the Indonesian Academy of Sciences, and the National Center for Earthquake Studies, the PI Dr. Widiyantoro [shown speaking at right] and his team held a national workshop in Jakarta on July 18, 2019, on the topic “National awareness of the threat of earthquakes and volcanoes.” Photos courtesy of Dr. Widiyantoro.
The long-term safety of people in their homes and their livelihoods depend on the ability of scientists to properly assess the current state of unrest at the volcano. The research carried out under this project will improve our understanding of volcanic processes and thus our ability to forecast future eruptions, both at Agung and Batur, and also at other similar volcanoes worldwide. In Bali, these forecasts directly impact the safety of hundreds of thousands of people located in the hazard zones, including many poor and vulnerable communities. Improving eruption forecasts and volcanic hazard education in Bali will help ensure the safety of at-risk populations and minimize economic losses in future eruptions. The geophysical studies to be conducted will also strengthen collaborations among Indonesian government agencies (the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation and the Disaster Mitigation Research Center), university colleagues at ITB, and USGS/VDAP scientists. Although relationships among these partners currently exist, the Agung volcanic crisis has highlighted the advantages that greater collaboration between Indonesian government and university experts would bring to eruption forecasting efforts. The project will serve as a model for further collaborative efforts to improve volcano monitoring and risk mitigation in Indonesia, the country with the most historically active volcanoes in the world (Siebert et al., 2010).

Summary of Recent Project Activities

In the second quarter of 2019, Dr. Widiyantoro and his group focused on managing their geo-database, processing data, and conducting outreach activities. As noted in previous reports, since January 2019 they have installed 25 new seismic monitoring stations, adding to the 15 permanent seismometer in a network already deployed by the Center for Volcanology and Geological Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM). As part of the PEER project, the researchers have compiled the data from both the temporary PEER and permanent CVGHM network and stored it in a data server. During this past quarter they processed data collected in the previous quarter, identifying and geo-locating about 100 seismic evens. They are also compiling and analyzing data from four temporary GPS stations deployed within the PEER project and five existing CVGHM GPS stations full covering the Agung volcano. The combination of both networks fully covers the Agung volcano, with the data helping to identify strain changes associated with the inflation and deflation of the volcano during its eruptions in December 2018 and January 2019. Finally, the team is also collecting samples of the ejected lava and ash around Agung, and they have trained members of local community groups to assist. They are currently creating a database with information about the collected materials.

The PI reports that preliminary seismology, geology, and GPS results will be disseminated at the Asia Oceania Geosciences Society meeting to be held in Singapore July 28 to August 2, 2019. Four abstracts will also be submitted for the annual meeting of the American Geophysical Union 2019 in San Francisco, and during that meeting the PI plans to meet with his U.S. partners from the USGS Volcano Disaster Assistance Program. Regarding public outreach and training, the PEER team will be visiting Bali beginning August 6, 2019, during which they will make an aerial mapping of schools, plan a mitigation strategy for volcano eruption hazards, and install evacuation signs around the schools. They will also hold eruption mitigation training workshops for about 250 junior high school students and 25 teachers. Later in August, the team will hold a workshop on volcano monitoring at ITB. The four-day workshop will cover integrated geosciences aspects of volcano monitoring, including geology, seismology, and geodetic components. The approximately 50 participants will include PEER team members; staff from CVGHM and the Indonesian Meteorology, Climatology, and Geophysical Agency (BMKG); and postdoctoral students from various universities.

The geo-data obtained in this project will also be shared through the MAGMA Indonesia server owned by CVGHM. MAGMA Indonesia (Multiplatform Application for Geohazard Mitigation and Assessment in Indonesia) is a multiplatform (Web and mobile) application in a network containing information and recommendations on integrated geological disasters (volcanoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, and ground movements) presented to the community in an interactive, quasi real-time format. This system has been built and developed by CVGHM since 2015 using the latest open-source technology ( Using the MAGMA server ensures the sustainability of its results, as it is owned and maintained by the Indonesian Government budget. A dedicated PEER-USAID page planned to be integrated into MAGMA will increase the visibility of this study to the public as well as help CVGHM staff to improve the understanding of the physical process underneath Agung volcano. Access to the data set will be restricted to PEER-USAID research partners and other parties depending on the agreement. The update is ongoing and the launch of the new version of MAGMA is planned for late 2019.

Links to Recent Papers and News Reports

Albino, F., Biggs, J., & Syahbana, D. K. (2019). Dyke intrusion between neighbouring arc volcanoes responsible for 2017 pre-eruptive seismic swarm at Agung. Nature Communications 10(1), 748.  

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