Geology, tectonics, and the 2002-2003 eruption of the Semeru volcano, Indonesia: interpreted from high-spatial resolution satellite imagery



Publication Details

Solikhin, A., Thouret, J., Gupta, A., Harris, A. J. L. & Liew, S. (2012). Geology, tectonics, and the 2002-2003 eruption of the Semeru volcano, Indonesia: interpreted from high-spatial resolution satellite imagery. Geomorphology, 138 (1), 364-379.


The paper illustrates the application of high-spatial resolution satellite images in interpreting volcanic structures and eruption impacts in the Tengger–Semeru massif in east Java, Indonesia. We use high-spatial resolution images (IKONOS and SPOT 5) and aerial photos in order to analyze the structures of Semeru volcano and map the deposits. Geological and tectonic mapping is based on two DEMs and on the interpretation of aerial photos and four SPOT and IKONOS optical satellite images acquired between 1996 and 2002. We also compared two thermal Surface Kinetic Temperature ASTER images before and after the 2002–2003 eruption in order to delineate and evaluate the impacts of the pyroclastic density currents. Semeru's principal structural features are probably due to the tectonic setting of the volcano. A structural map of the Tengger–Semeru massif shows four groups of faults orientated N40, N160, N75, and N105 to N140. Conspicuous structures, such as the SE-trending horseshoe-shaped scar on Semeru's summit cone, coincide with the N160-trending faults. The direction of minor scars on the east flank parallels the first and second groups of faults. The Semeru composite cone hosts the currently active Jonggring-Seloko vent. This is located on, and buttressed against, the Mahameru edifice at the head of a large scar that may reflect a failure plane at shallow depth. Dipping 35° towards the SE, this failure plane may correspond to a weak basal layer of weathered volcaniclastic rocks of Tertiary age. We suggest that the deformation pattern of Semeru and its large scar may be induced by flank spreading over the weak basal layer of the volcano. It is therefore necessary to consider the potential for flank and summit collapse in the future. The last major eruption took place in December 2002–January 2003, and involved emplacement of block-and-ash flows. We have used the 2003 ASTER Surface Kinetic Temperature image to map the 2002–2003 pyroclastic density current deposits. We have also compared two 10 m-pixel images acquired before and after the event to describe the extent and impact of an estimated volume of 5.45×106 m3 of block-and-ash flow deposits. An ash-rich pyroclastic surge escaped from one of the valley-confined block-and ash flows at 5 to 8 km distance from the crater and swept across the forest and tilled land on the SW side of the Bang River Valley. Downvalley, the temperature of the pyroclastic surge decreased and a mud-rich deposit coated the banks of the Bang River Valley. Thus, hazard mitigation at Semeru should combine: (1) continuous monitoring of the eruptive activity through an early-warning system, and (2) continuous remote sensing of the morphological changes in the drainage system due to the impact of frequent pyroclastic density currents and lahars.

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