Due to the increasing growth of the dome and the strong
activity I decided spontaneously to visit the volcano
Merapi. Contrary to my summer attendance last year the
rare opportunity to observe such glowing clouds called
(PF) could be expected.
Beside that natural phenomena it was a lucky circumstance
that Chris Weber with friends and Marc Szeglat wanted also
reach the localities in Yogyakarta and Merapi. Thus a
common vehicle could be used.
coincidentally Tom Pfeiffer
who was staying already some
days before in the town. Together we started to search
places with good prospects for the evening and morning
observations. In irregular time intervals the Merapi did
show glowing stone avalanches accompanied with dust
clouds. A few smaller PFs toward SW to the Krassak
valley could be particularly
day. A beautiful alternation offered the ‘30 hour’s young
moon’ with a weak but clear earth light reflection before
the sunrise on
In the morning
of the 27th it should come
different. Together with Tom we
observed the glowing stone avalanches in the dawn on a
moderate PF during the sunrise of a high-altitude parking
lot in the south of the volcano.
Suddenly the bottom began to swing
horizontal accompanied with a dull / musty rumbling sound.
The vegetation produced an unbelievable rustling caused by
rubbing plants one to another. Over there at the Merapi
(summit distance for instance 4km) dust clouds raised up
everywhere and for one minute I believed we have to die
immediately in case of an over dimensional landslip. Cries
and engine noises in the background showed an upcoming
panic by locals. Also our native driver preferred the fast
escape without us.
So fast the quake came, it was already
gone with the duration of perhaps 20 seconds. Now, the
Merapi shows nearly in minute intervals approximately a
half dozen larger PFs, and an unbelievable ash cloud
kilometre high into the blue morning sky and towered the
3000m high Merapi over a multiple height. As usual the
video cells were empty, and so I took only a few
snapshots by using my trembling hand.
Thinking about searching the nearest
shelter instead to run the cameras, the volcano calmed
down during one hour.
Also our driver returned and we could
drive back to the total chaos overwhelmed city. People in
their cars escaped from the volcano, the other ones
escaped from the sea coast fled toward the mountains
because of the Tsunami warnings. This caused a longer
traffic chaos and therefore we tried to inform us about
the radio broadcasts. In this afternoon I met Chris Weber.
He took the detour over Solo because of the closed and
damaged airport. His report of nearly completely collapsed
and enormous destructed city parts and a lot of dead
people let us comprehend that a tectonic earthquake with
the strength of 6 RS took place. In our mountain region
only small damages like falling roof brick were recognized
by us. Also at an outlook point at the Krassak valley in
the SW direction of the Merapi we saw small seismic
next day during the travel to Prambanan we saw partly
substantial damages and the local resident people began to
sort the left remainders in an unbelievable relaxed
manner, that the high number of approximately 6000 dead
people appears so unbelievable for us.
On the next morning at the southern outlook point again, I
searched alone a way in the forest in order to approach to
the Merapi more closely. On this morning the cloud
appearance was stronger, but opened for a short time. From
here only 3 km away from the volcano you feel formally the
breath of the volcano.
Each falling stone could be heard
and ash was laying on each leave, unfortunately also on my
camera stand. Therefore I visited this place early in the
morning the next days again. Most impressing, the glowing
clouds (PF) which were sliding down like
down to the valleys. Remembering to the reports of Pompeij
and St. Pierre I was allowed to see this fabulous game of
nature from a closer range. In contrary to the rumbling
stone avalanches this type of material movement was
extremely loud less. Only a fast raising ash cloud at the
summit announces their appearance. Whereupon a dark cloud
tongue with small expansion shoots down the slope.
This cloud blows itself high up for
more kilometres. Numerous birds were flapping
nervously 10-15 minutes around the areal
until the spook has gone. In the
early dawn you can recognize at the PF's base a weak
glowing. In the morning hours of the 27th
two PF's could be seen.
Together with Chris, Marc and companions the observations
were continued from a further distance on the next days.
Unfortunately the evening
observations were disturbed regularly by thunderstorms
with strong rain. At the 30th I decided, to
leave the Merapi to explore further volcanos in the
western Java. The ideal opportunity for this tour offered
the small group from Chris, which I could follow the next