High-spatial-resolution imagery helps map deposits of the large (VEI 4) 2010 Merapi Volcano eruption and their impact
The 26 October-23 November 2010 eruption is Merapi's largest event (VEI 4) over the past 140 years. We used high-spatial-resolution (HSR) imagery from GeoEye, Pléiades, IKONOS, and SPOT5 satellites to assess the extent and effects of the pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) and subsequent lahars. We have tracked the geomorphic and structural (fracturing) changes of Merapi's summit crater and dome between 2008 and 2012. The 4 September 2011 GeoEye image shows that due to the explosive eruption, the summit area lost about 10 x 106 m3. The eruption enlarged the SSE-trending Gendol breach to be 1.3 x 0.3 x 0.2 km. The 2010 tephra and PDC deposits covered about 26 km2 in the two catchments of Gendol and Opak Rivers on Merapi's south flank, i.e., 60-75 % of the total PDC deposit area, with a total bulk volume of 45 x 106 m3. The tephra-fall deposit covered an area of about 1300 km2 with a range in volume of 18-21 x 106 m3. Supervised and object-oriented classification on HSR imagery enables us to map in detail the PDC deposits across the Gendol-Opak catchment. We delineated 16 spectrally and/or texturally distinct units of PDC deposits and compared them with previously published results. They encompass high-energy surge deposits within ca. 8 km of the summit, valley-confined PDC deposits channeled as far as 16.5 km in the Gendol River, and widespread overbank PDC with ash-cloud surge deposits on valley margins. Additional high-resolution data are provided to map and analyze flooded areas due to lahar activity in 2011-2012 on the south and west flanks. Subsequent overbank lahars impacted selective small areas in the populated ring plain, devastating villages along the Putih River on the southeast flank and the Gendol River. We have analyzed the morphometric parameters (channel cross-sectional capacity, longitudinal rate of channel confinement, and channel sinuosity) of the Gendol-Opak River channels that govern overbank and avulsion of lahars in the ring plain. The paper demonstrates the potential of HSR satellite imagery to outline tephra, PDC, and lahar deposits; map the geomorphic and structural evolution of the summit area of persistently active composite cones; and thus improve hazard assessment for Merapi, a volcano whose summit, slopes, and drainages have changed more since October 2010 than at any other time since 1931.
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