Following the eruption of January 1992, episodes of lava dome growth accompanied by generation of dome-collapse nuées ardentes occurred in 1994–1998. In addition, nuées ardentes were generated by fountain-collapse in January 1997, and the 1998 events also suggest an explosive component. Significant tilt and seismic precursors on varying time scales preceded these events. Deformation about the summit has been detected by electronic tiltmeters since November 1992, with inflation corresponding generally to lava dome growth, and deflation (or decreased inflation) corresponding to loss of dome mass. Strong short-term (days to weeks) accelerations in tilt rate and seismicity occurred prior to the major nuées ardentes episodes, apart from those of 22 November 1994 which were preceded by steadily increasing tilt for over 200 days but lacked short-term precursors. Because of the combination of populated hazardous areas and the lack of an issued warning, about 100 casualties occurred in 1994. In contrast, the strong precursors in 1997 and 1998 provided advance warning to observatory scientists, enabled the stepped raising of alert levels, and aided hazard management. As a result of these factors, but also the fortunate fact that the large nuées ardentes did not quite descend into populated areas, no casualties occurred. The nuée ardente episode of 1994 is interpreted as purely due to gravitational collapse, whereas those of 1997 and 1998 were influenced by gas-pressurization of the lava dome.
Additional publication details
Deformation and seismic precursors to dome-collapse and fountain-collapse nuées ardentes at Merapi Volcano, Java, Indonesia, 1994-1998