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U.S. and Indonesia Partner to Reduce the Risk of Volcano Disasters and Save Lives

September 06, 2012
U.S. and Indonesia Partner to Reduce the Risk of Volcano Disasters and Save Lives (State Dept.)

U.S. and Indonesia Partner to Reduce the Risk of Volcano Disasters and Save Lives

On September 5, U.S. Ambassador Scot Marciel highlighted the close cooperation between the United States and Indonesia on volcano disaster prevention at an @america event attended by university students, researchers, and journalists.  The Ambassador joined Dr. Surono, head of the Indonesian Center for Volcanology and Geologic Hazard Mitigation (CVGHM), and John Pallister from U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to speak at the event, which was moderated by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The Government of Indonesia invited the United States to help support and enhance CVGHM’s capabilities with the hope of mitigating disasters and saving lives through better volcano monitoring and response mechanisms.  The partnership between CVGHM and USGS scientists helps both of our countries.  John Pallister explained USGS scientists who come to Indonesia take home the knowledge they learn from their Indonesian colleagues to share with other American and international experts.  Through better monitoring and warning systems, potential victims can evacuate and avoid harm.  Dr. Surono cited successful U.S.-Indonesia cooperation in the case of the 2010 Mt. Merapi eruption.  Without our bilateral efforts, Dr. Surono told the crowd, many more people would have died in the disaster.

Currently, USAID runs a volcano assistance program in Indonesia to help modernize volcano monitoring networks and hazard assessments where more than 3.3 million people live in the shadows of active volcanoes.  Some aspects of the program include:

  • From Sept. 7-Oct. 6, 2012, the USAID volcano program will send five Indonesian scientists to the United States for training on volcano monitoring and hazard assessment. 
  • Over the last few months, volcano program assistance enabled Indonesian scientists to install a telemetered, real-time Global Positioning System (GPS) to monitor Mt. Agung on Bali; improve seismic monitoring at Mt. Raung and Kawah Ijen in East Java; and improve volcanic gas monitoring in the Dieng Plateau in Central Java.
  • Since 2010, American staff have worked with CVGHM to complete monitoring installations in North Sulawesi, conduct joint training workshops, and begin the Java expansion with new installations and hazard assessments at Tangkuban Perahu volcano, the highly populated “city volcano” near Bandung, Java, and at Ijen and Raung volcanoes in East Java.
  • At the request of Indonesian President Yudhoyono,  a U.S. crisis response team was deployed to assist Indonesia’s volcano monitoring agency in their response to the largest eruption at Mt. Merapi in more than 100 years.  U.S. and international partners helped assess the magnitude of the eruption and areas affected, thereby informing decisions on evacuations and helping save approximatley 10,000-20,000 lives.  In addition, the on-site U.S. team provided technical assistance and monitoring equipment to replace systems destroyed in the early phase of the eruption and to expand the monitoring program.   

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