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  • Article
  • Open Access

Micro-tilt changes preceding summit explosions at Semeru volcano, Indonesia

Earth, Planets and Space200759:BF03352688

  • Received: 31 August 2006
  • Accepted: 4 October 2006
  • Published:


A two-axis tiltmeter installed at the summit of Semeru volcano, Indonesia, reveals two different modes of deformation, short-term and longer-term. The short-term variations are inflations precursory to the occurrence of summit explosions. The time intervals between the explosions range from several minutes to several tens of minutes, and the maximum precursory tilt change observed is about 0.1–0.2 μrad. This change in tilt is interpreted to reflect a shallow pressurization source, just beneath the active crater. The longer-term tilt changes are displayed over a period of several days to weeks, and a steady inflation during a period of nearly 2 weeks preceded the occurrence of pyroclastic flows on December 22, 2005. Both short-term and longer-term changes are confined to the radial tilt component, pointing toward the active crater and conduit. To explain both of these tilt changes we propose relatively shallow conduit pressurization, although at somewhat deeper levels in the case of longer-term deformation. The causative mechanisms involve gas exsolution, microlite crystallization, and rheological stiffening, which results in greater flow resistance and dynamic pressure in the upper conduit, thus causing the edifice tilts observed. The gas pore pressure in the magma builds until the threshold required to trigger explosive fragmentation is reached.

Key words

  • Semeru volcano
  • tilt observation
  • pressure source
  • precursory tilt
  • eruption monitoring