Determining the Effectiveness of Small Scale Volcano Hazard Mapping and Lahar Education for Rural Villages in Central Java, Indonesia
Wednesday, May 8th, 2013
The archipelago of Indonesia is located on the Sunda Arc where the Indo-Australian Plate is subducting to the north beneath the Eurasian Plate resulting in an active area of volcanism and seismicity. Mount Merapi on the island of Java in the central section of the Sunda Arc is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to 1) its proximity to a population center exceeding one million that includes the city of Yogyakarta, 2) its history of large destructive eruptions with an eruption frequency of 2 – 10 years, and 3) heavy monsoonal rainfall from November to March that mobilize large lahars. Volcanic hazard mitigation around Merapi is crucial and for this reason it is recognized as one of the 16 Decade Volcanoes identified by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as a target for particular study. Using a community empowerment program at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta as a vehicle for hazard mitigation, 3 weeks were spent in a field area near Bunder Village, on the southern flank of Merapi investigating prior hazard events and conducting interviews with local residents to determine the current state of hazard understanding by the villagers. Using historical records and imagery from previous work, a simple, localized hazard map was created for the area and presented to villagers. The map produced simplified more complex ideas as to create a more complete understanding for the residents. Information regarding the processes of lahar flows was presented to the residents as well. The impact on hazard mitigation by these efforts is difficult to determine initially but the true measure will come when Bunder Village faces the next disaster. The goal of this work was to take a first step in determining if this type of direct-intervention approach can be translated with similar efforts to benefit the hundreds of other villages living in the shadow of Mount Merapi.