Jewel in the Ring of Fire

Alberto Garcia Sangeang

The eruption of Sangeang Api at the end of May was a pretty big deal for us – because it’s not every day that you get to see a volcano in action, and it was really special to have guests with us onboard Dunia Baru who were able to witness this spectacular event (Alberto Garcia, one of our guests, took the fantastic photograph, above).

While actually watching a volcano erupt is a once-in-a-lifetime event for most people, volcanic activity is pretty common in this part of the world. Indonesia sits on what is known as the Ring of Fire, a 40,000-kilometre long horseshoe-shaped area that stretches around the basin of the Pacific Ocean… Antarctica, New Zealand, Indonesia, Philippines, Japan, Russia, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Costa Rica, Bolivia and Chile all sit along the Ring of Fire.

You’ve heard about continental shift, right? Well what’s happening around the Ring of Fire is a fine example of this. The hard outer shell of the earth, the lithosphere, is comprised of tectonic plates; there are seven major plates on our planet, each around 100km thick, and they make up most of the continents and the Pacific Ocean floor. These tectonic plates are either colliding with each other, sliding past each other, or moving away from each other, and it’s this movement that results in earthquakes and volcanoes.

The Ring of Fire’s statistics are pretty impressive: 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes and 75 percent of both active and dormant volcanoes occur here. There are 425 volcanoes along the Ring of Fire… you’ve probably heard of some of them: Mount St Helens in the USA, Mount Fuji in Japan, Mount Pinatubo in Philippines, Mount Ruapehu in New Zealand and Krakatau (also called Krakatoa) in Indonesia… and of course, there’s Sangeang Api. (“Api”, by the way, is Indonesian for “fire”.)

Dunia Baru’s operations manager, Courtney Robba, caught the eruption on camera from onboard the boat and you can see her stunning photo sequence here. Want to know what it looked like from above? Here’s an animation of the eruption. To see what the Sangeang eruption looked like from the side, take a look at these images shot by Sofyan Efendi as he took a commercial flight from Bali to Labuan Bajo. Talk about great timing!

In case you’re wondering what Sangeang looks like underwater… One of our guests, Kara Murphy, made a video of the dives she did with us, and you’ll see amazing footage of gases rising from the corals around Sangeang in the video posted here.

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