Thick smoke and ash spew from the summit of Mount Sinabung, as seen from Tanah Karo in Sumatra. Thousands of Indonesians were evacuated from the volcanoes slopes in the north of the island of Sumatra on Sunday after it erupted for the first time in more than 400 years, spewing out lava and sending smoke and dust 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) into the air. The volcano began erupting around midnight after rumbling for several days, prompting some villagers to panic before the mass evacuation got under way.
"This is the first time since 1600 that Sinabung has erupted and we have little knowledge in terms on its eruptive patterns," said Surono,the head of Indonesia's vulcanology center.
Indonesia is on the Pacific Rim of Fire, an arc of volcanoes and geological fault lines triggering frequent earthquakes around the Pacific Basin. The eruption triggered the highest red volcano alert.
We reported yesterday that a new report from the Proceedings from the National Acadmey of Sciences of the United States of America says that repairing the damage from global warming will prove extremely difficult and non-cost-effective.
Severe treatment would mean injecting "sulphur dioxode particles equivalent to a major volcanic eruption, such as that of Mt Pinatubo, every 18 months to reduce temperatures and delay ice-cap melt and sea-level rises," The Ecologist reports. Other geoengineering options include installing mirrors in space and afforestation. Geoengineering approaches are risky and raise several questions about what effects they will have on the planet, leading many scientists and policy-makers to shy away from their use.