Virtual Volcano Vacation challenge #29 WINNER! – Semeru

Semeru, Java's highest volcano, is seen in eruption on the skyline at the southern end of a volcanic chain extending from Tengger caldera on the north. The ribbed post-caldera cone of Batok is the center foreground and the steaming cone of Bromo in the left foreground. This sunrise view from the rim of Tengger caldera is a popular tourist destination. Photo by Lee Siebert, 1995 (Smithsonian Institution) Image originally posted at Global Volcanism Program

Semeru, Java’s highest volcano, is seen in eruption on the skyline at the southern end of a volcanic chain extending from Tengger caldera on the north. The ribbed post-caldera cone of Batok is the center foreground and the steaming cone of Bromo in the left foreground. This sunrise view from the rim of Tengger caldera is a popular tourist destination. Photo by Lee Siebert, 1995 (Smithsonian Institution)
Image originally posted at Global Volcanism Program

Leslie is making up for lost time after two weeks of actually visiting actual volcanoes in Iceland…and making me guess where she was. She found me on Gunung Semeru in East Java.

This volcano not only holds the distinction of being the highest point on the island of Java (at 3,676 m (12,060 ft), but also one of the most active volcanoes in the world. It has been erupting continually since 1967, and on an average erupts every 20-30 minutes. All of its (at least) 55 historical eruptions are classified VEI 2 or 3, and 10 of those have caused fatalities. Semeru tends to erupt explosively and though it is a popular climb for mountain trekkers, its actual crater rim area is a dangerous place to be due to falling (and flying) blocks of volcanic ejecta. In fact, in 2000, a scientific expedition was caught on the rim of the summit crater during an explosion and two volcanologists perished. Five others were injured, including Lee Seibert of the Smithsonian Institute.

The video below features clips of several explosive eruptions.

As is often the case with high mountains, Semeru was believed to be a sacred place. The Hindus of East Java have a legend concerning the creation of Java in which the god Shiva devised a plan to use part of his mountain abode Mahameru in India to pin down the island, which at that time was floating freely in the ocean. To accomplish this, Vishnu transformed into a giant turtle and bore the mountain on his back, while Brahma became a giant snake and wrapped his body around the mountain to secure it. They tried placing the mountain on the west end of Java but the island began to tip, so they carried it east. As they did so, bits of the mountain fell off and are evident today as other volcanoes and mountains along Semeru’s path to its final destination. When Semeru was set in its current place, the island began to tip toward the east, so the top part was taken off and is now Mount Penanggungan. According to Indonesian legend, Shiva resides at the top of Mount Semeru.

An attempt to depict the cosmology of the Puranas, and Mount Meru, provenance and exact date unknown; a steel engraving, 1850's, with modern hand coloring Image originally posted by Columbia University

An attempt to depict the cosmology of the Puranas, and Mount Meru, provenance and exact date unknown; a steel engraving, 1850’s, with modern hand coloring
Image originally posted by Columbia University

So..four points awarded to Leslie this week. Thank you for playing along. Be sure to check back here (or “friend me” on Facebook…if ye be bold) every Monday for a new volcano and a new adventure.

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