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Merapi


According to a fresh blog post at the BBC News site, Mt. Merapi in Java is erupting (again). An older BBC article gives an idea of the significance of the volcano for those who live nearby. Just yesterday the BBC posted a video that shows some of Merapi's recent activity. More dramatic photos are posted here. The Mount Merapi blog may also have more updates on the situation. CBS World claims that the volcano was quieting on Friday morning, and video clips of the activity the CBS story mentions were linked to by the ClipBlast blog and are viewable at Reuters. With the time differences it's hard to say what the current situation is and whether this is a new event or just more after effects of the activity early Friday morning. Nonetheless, this is a story that I've been following.

Just a few weeks ago a large earthquake killed over 6,000 people to the west of Yogyakarta (Jogja). The area is still dealing with the aftermath of the earthquake, and a major eruption could add more chaos.

What is the connection? Well, last summer I studied Javanese gamelan (a gong-drum ensemble) in Surakarta (Solo), just kilometers from Merapi. Jogja and Solo are historical court centers and have cultivated gamelan music for centuries. In part because of the forging process involved in creating the bronze instruments, gamelan ensembles are often linked conceptually to the mountains and volcanos that surround the cities.

Merapi threatened eruptions last summer, and you could seen the glow of the cone from my teacher's front porch. After the earthquake I did hear from several of my Javanese friends to say that they were unharmed &mdash my teacher said that his fence had been damaged and that he had a bruise from falling during the tremors. Hopefully the eruption will be small, as the scientists predict. My friends there are in my thoughts. When I find it, I will post my photo of Merapi as it looked last July &mdash the tell-tale plume of smoke drifting in the wind from the summit of the perfect cone top &mdash seen from the road between Solo and Jogja (you can see the location of both cities on the map at the BBC's 8 June video page).

Top photo by AP via BBC In Pictures.

More stuff, context, reminiscences: Well, after slogging about a bit on the Web, I thought I should add a couple more resources to this post. First, for some wonderful pictures, particularly this one of Jogja, from the JavaJive blog. And, ah, the food. Also, a wonderful satellite image of the volcano. Richard Lloyd Parry's (Times foreign correspondent) blog response. And, more info from the University of North Dakota.


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