Erosion and aggradation on persistently active volcanoes-a case study from Semeru Volcano, Indonesia



Publication Details

Thouret, J., Oehler, J., Gupta, A., Solikhin, A. & Procter, J. N. (2014). Erosion and aggradation on persistently active volcanoes-a case study from Semeru Volcano, Indonesia. Bulletin of Volcanology, 76 (10), 857-1 - 857-26.


Erosion processes on active volcanoes in humid climates result in some of the highest sediment yields on Earth. Episodic sediment yields after large eruptions have been evaluated, but not the long-term and continuous patterns on persistently active volcanoes. We have used high-spatial resolution satellite imagery and DEMs/DSMs along with field-based geologic mapping to assess accurately sediment budgets for the active Semeru Volcano in Java, Indonesia. Patterns of aggradation and degradation on Semeru differ from that of other active volcanoes because (1) both episodic pyroclastic density currents (PDC) and continuous supplies of tephra generate pulses of sediment, (2) sediment is transferred via cycles of aggradation and degradation that continue for >15 years in river channels after each PDC-producing eruption, and (3) rain-triggered lahars remove much greater material than fluvial transport during long, intense rainfall events. The geomorphic response of two of Semeru's rivers to volcanic sediment migration indicates that (1) each river experiences alternating aggradation and degradation cycles following PDC-producing eruptions and (2) spatial patterns of sediment transfer are governed by geomorphic characteristics of the river reaches. Usually high degradation in the steep source reach is followed by a long bypassing middle reach. Aggradation predominates in the depositional reaches further down valley on the ring plain. Average sediment yields (103-105 t/km2/year) at persistently active volcanoes are two to three orders of magnitude lower than sediment yields after large and infrequent eruptions, but the continuous and steady sediment transfer in rivers removes more sediment on a mid-term (10 years) to long-term (30 years) basis. In contrast to the trend observed on composite cones after large and infrequent eruptions, decay of sediment yields is not exponential and river channels do not fully recover at steadily active volcanoes as episodic inputs from BAF eruptions, superimposed on the background remobilization of daily tephra, have a greater cumulative effect.

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