Volcanoes of Bali.

Indonesia is situated mainly in Southeast Asia with some territories between Indian and Pacific Oceans. Such a location causes a wide variety of nature and geographical features. It can be easily said that this country covers one of the most attractive regions of the world, therefore being a challenging travel destination. Everything can be found in this island country: impenetrable rain forests; eye-catching, wild rivers and lakes; magnificent, fabulous beaches; stunning valleys; high, unreachable mountains with giant glaciers and majestic volcanoes the peaks of which, are very attractive for those in favour of an active rest.

They are volcano sites that attract tourists. Travellers  have an opportunity not only to go for a marvellous climbing but also enjoy breathtaking views and see the interior of the craters.  At that point, however, amusement stops and a real danger begins.

Because of its location, Indonesia faces high seismic and volcanic activities. Frankly speaking, it is the most volcanic active country in the world. It is estimated that there are about 300 volcanoes there, half of which are still dangerous. Volcanologists calculated that 80 of them can erupt in the nearest future but 21 are ready to explode at every moment. Volcanic eruptions are violent and put at risk the lives of both locals and  tourists. The risk is even bigger as the volcanic areas are densely populated because of the fertility of nearby soils, and visitors arrive here eagerly just to see volcanoes themselves.

Why are there so many volcanoes in one country? Why are so many of them still active and can erupt at every moment? Why is Australia free from that sort of ‘attractions’ despite being located so close to Indonesia? The answer is easy and cruel. Indonesia is situated in The Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire is a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity, or earthquakes, around the edges of the Pacific Ocean. Roughly 90% of all earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire, and the ring is dotted with 75% of all active volcanoes on Earth. The Ring of Fire isn’t quite a circular ring. It is shaped more like a 40,000-kilometer  horseshoe. A string of 452 volcanoes stretches from the southern tip of South America, up along the coast of North America, across the Bering Strait, down through Japan, and into New Zealand. Several active and dormant volcanoes in Antarctica, however, “close” the ring.

That’s why Indonesia has a stormy and dark history of dealing with its localization. Volcanic eruptions have always been present in everyday life.  One of the most dangerous ones was an eruption of Toba volcano on Sumatra.  It took place 75 000 years ago and according to scientists it brought  constant winter to that area for over ten years and secondly, as an indirect result, Sumatra broke apart from the Malaysian Peninsula. Another eruption that is worth being mentioned is the one of Krakatau volcano on the Krakatau island located in Sunda Strait between the Indonesian island of Java and Sumatra. That was the most notable eruption that happened on 26th August 1883. Actually, it is claimed to be the most violent volcanic eruptions in recorded history. Over 36 000 people were killed in tsunami waves and earthquakes – a direct result of this eruption. However, the most spectacular eruption ever was the one of Tambora volcano that is located on Sumbawa island. The biggest outbreak, the most powerful one with an estimated elevation of over 44 kilometers, was heard more than 2 000 kilometers away. The volcanic ashes were spilled over 1 300 km away on Java and even Borneo, the cover was about 1 cm.  The eruptive fallout ruined agricultural productivity in the region, and again the ‘ volcanic winter’ occurred.  Year 1816 was proclaimed as ‘Year Without a Summer’ because the eruption affected European and North American weather.

Those eruptions were dated hundreds years back, but focusing on contemporary times we have to keep in mind the eruption of Agung Volcano on Bali, which is considered to be one of the most spectacular ones. The first outbreak took place on 18th February 1963, on February 24th first tongues of lava were observed in the area, however on March 17th the real eruption happened with elevation of 10 kilometers. About 1 500 people were considered to be killed. Mount Agung is still active. The last eruption was witnessed by all of us in December 2017. Luckily no victims were noted and the only difficulties were the ones in air travel and evacuation of local people.

Indonesia is one of the most attractive countries in the world because of its location, but it is also a pretty dangerous one. Following the words of  Wojciech Giełżyński, it is ‘The archipelago of anxiety’. Having that in mind is crucial while travelling there, especially if it comes to climbing volcanoes. Checking warnings and following all the rules of Indonesian government is the best way not to fall into trouble in Indonesia.

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Information technology architect, loving expeditions in the wilderness of Indonesia.

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