Updated: 3 days ago
Is Mount Batur due, or even overdue to let off more than just steam? With so many industries and people within those industries relying on the Mount Batur volcano for an income including farmers, shop owners, the fishing industry, the sand miners, the federal government for all the taxes and fees they collect from tourism operators conducting Bali tours including ourselves that are also reliant on the volcano for an income, we thought we had best check this out from a business stand point. After doing the sums in our simple case study that follows, we decided to diversify into waterfall tours as well. See why below:
Mount Batur has one of the most awe inspiring calderas on the planet. It's nearly 14 km's across x 10 kilometres across and houses Lake Batur. (Lake Batur is probably responsible for keeping the Mount Batur Volcano at least partially cooled) Mount Batur is said to be 1717 meters above sea level. The numbers "1717" are literally carved in stone near the top of the volcano. It makes sense for the volcano to be dropping though. All that ash and lava over the years has to come from somewhere right?
In September 2012 UNESCO granted the area World Heritage listing status because of the area's "Cultural Significance & Natural Scenery" It's widely believed that the first eruption happened around 27,300 BCE (give or take a few years) and this particular volcano is known as a "stratovolcano" type.
The Balinese have a belief that loosely translates to something like the Chinese Yin & Yang. "If you take from the mountain, at some stage the mountain will want it back." Along those lines anyway. I'll probably need to get clarification of the exact wording when the opportunity arises in the future when one of our Bali tours crosses with an elder from the region and we're not in a hurry. Anyway, here are the dates we have managed to put together over the years, and then confirmed by a volcanologist that did PhD on Mount Batur in Bristol University for our guides to be as accurate as possible when doing tours:
Since Last Eruption
First recorded eruption
There was an eruption from the main crater.
There was an eruption from the main crater.
Eruption with lava flow to the lake.
There was a fissure eruption on the southeastern slope, lava flowing southeastward to the lake.
There was an eruption from the main crater
Parasitic eruptions to the west
Eruptions from the Batur I, Batur II and Batur III craters. The lava flows south, and southwest.
The eruption began on January 29th and ended on April 17th, the lava flows to the southwest and south.
August 30, there was an eruption from the main crater.
Increased activity for 2 days.
The ash eruption occurred in March.
Early January there was an eruption of ash, followed by incandescent lava for one day.
The eruption began August 2nd and ended September 21st. This eruption of Mount Batur released Lava that covered the Batur Village. There were no casualties.
The eruption began on September 5th and ended on May 10th 1964, with lava eruptions.
On August 18th there was an eruption of ash.
On April 28th there was an eruption of ash.
The eruption began on January 23rd and ended on February 15th, lava flowing south.
At the end of January there was an eruption of very thin ash reaching Kintamani.
Starting March 11th there was an eruption of ash, the eruption lasted until May.
The eruption occurred on March 12th, lava flow occurred on March 17th.
The eruption started on August 7th, 1994. The 1994 eruption was explosive which at the beginning of the eruption was an eruption of ash, then subsequent eruptions were accompanied by ejection of incandescent material, resulting in a new crater (Kawah 1994). The products of the eruption of lapilli and volcanic bombs only settle around the crater with a radius of approximately 300 metres from the centre of the eruption, while the ash from the eruption settles westward to Kintamani. The height of the eruption smoke ranged from 25 - 300 metres above the crater rim.
Eruption occurred on the 26th of May 1995. The centre of the eruption of the 1994 Crater, was active in the form of explosive eruptions accompanied by ejections of incandescent material. The nature of the eruption is the same as the 1994 eruption.
The eruption starting on November 8th. The eruption centre was from Batur III Crater. Eruptive activity in the form of the release of observed bluish dry gas released from the Batur III Crater.
The eruption began on June 2nd creating a new crater (Crater 1998), which is located between the Batur III Crater and the 1994 Crater. The eruptions during June 1998 were characterised by bluish dry gas eruptions, which ended at night as a spray/flame.
The eruption began on the 1st of February producing a new crater (Kawah 1999). Volcanic activity from this crater took the form of an eruption/blowing smoke. On March 15th, the bund that separated the 1998 crater from the 1999 crater collapsed, so that the two craters became one.
On July 7th, at 12:16 WITA, there were three eruptions. The centre eruption from the 1999 crater where the smoke height of the eruption reached a maximum of 300metres above the crater rim, leaning to the northwest. The smoke from the eruption was a blackish grey colour. The eruption was accompanied by pyroclastic ejection such as sand, lapilli and lumps. The eruption this time resulted in the death of one person who immediately died and one person was injured, the victim was a foreign tourist who hiked without a tour guide. At the time of the 7th July eruption, the condition of Mount Batur was still on alert status, with directives that tourists were prohibited from approaching the centre of the eruption with a radius of 500m from the centre of activity (Kawah 1994).
So our decision to venture into waterfalls tours as well came after this simple maths equation in our early business case study of doing any Bali tours in the future:
The biggest gaps are: 1926 - 1963 = 37 years, and at the end of this big gap 1963 was a big eruption with lava flow.
1888 - 1854 = 34 years, and at the end of this big gap 1888 was a big eruption with lava flow.
1821 - 1849 = 18 years, and at the end of the big gap 1849 was a big eruption with lava flow.
1976 - 1994 = 18 years, and at the end of the big gap 1994 was a big eruption with lava flow.
This is the simple maths, the simple logic: If there is a big gap, there's a big eruption with lava flow that follows:
2000 - 2023 = 23 years so far.- We're due for a "big eruption with lava flow"
Mount Agung - November 2017
The above is Mount Agung Below is a satellite heat map showing Agung and Mount Batur are linked. Only six year ago Mount Agung let a bit more than steam. Will this relieve the stress on Mount Batur, or is Mount Agung eruption simply a precursor to Mount Batur's eminent eruption?
This is the third longest time in recorded history the volcano hasn't had a melt down of some kind. On top of this, consistently after a long stretch of no activity, the next eruption is a big one with lava flow.
Interestingly you'll be able to view a lot of these different lava flows on our 4x4 Volcano Explorer, Traditional Village & 4x4 Sunrise Sensation Private Tours because the lava is different colours. Our guides have shown the different colours to our guests on our Bali tours for years now . Obviously, we have better technology to predict a massive event like a lava flowing volcano eruption than we had in 1963 when we're told many villagers lost their lives (an estimated 1600 villagers). The technology in the caldera area itself may have advanced from bringing water up from the lake in buckets to water their crops to now having water pumped with a petrol powered water pump; however, the locals just don't have access to the information required should there be an emergency where the whole caldera has to be evacuated. Many thousands of people live and make a living from the rich soils in the caldera. I personally only know of one way in and out of the Caldera, there are probably a few more, however, a mass evacuation... you would want that lava flow to be of the slow moving variety. We're lucky, all we have to do is get a 4x4 out with our staff and family in it with all they can carry in the back of the 4x4, (belongings, family and friends) most will have a lot more to lose than that. So, we'll leave this with you to be the judge of when this particular volcano that is classed as "active" is due to let off more than just steam. We'll continue to do Bali tours of the wonderful area that is Kintamani and the Mount Batur / caldera area. At least we now have the accurate dates recorded somewhere for everyone to enjoy. If you find dates that contradict what we have, we'd be interested in taking a look if you'd care to share the information with us so we can check the credibility of the reference dates. Until then, we'll continue our Bali tours keeping a close eye on Mount Batur. Russ - CEO Expedition Bali Tours