Geologists, archaeologists monitoring mudflow near Prambanan temples

Archaeologists and geologists are still concerned with the threat of volcanic mudflow from Mt Merapi, combined with the rainy season damaging the temples of Prambanan. The mudflow has already destroyed several houses and structures and its path is projected to be close to, or near several ancient temples.

L1010906 - 2009-09-09 um 02-46-06
photo credit: C_Baltrusch

Yogyakarta’s Temples in the Firing Line of Lahar Floods
Jakarta Globe, 18 January 2011

Volcanic mud threatens Prambanan Temple
Jakarta Post, 17 January 2011

Lahar, the cold volcanic debris flowing down the slopes of Mount Merapi, is not only threatening houses and infrastructure but also archeological sites, a geologist said on Tuesday.

Subandrio, head of the Volcano Investigation and Technology Development Institution (BPPTK), said a team of geologists and archaeologists was evaluating the physical condition of temples located near the paths of the lahar runoff from Merapi.

“According to a letter from the Archaeological Heritage Conservation Center of Central Java, we have to give particular attention to the safety of Prambanan Temple and other temples in the complex,” he said.

Prambanan is a ninth century Hindu temple complex and a Unesco World Heritage site.

The Archaeological Heritage Conservation Center (BPPP) has asked the BPPTK to carefully monitor lahar flows near the temples. Three geophones, which can detect vibrations caused by lava flows, have been put in place as an early warning system.


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Author: Noel Tan

Dr Noel Hidalgo Tan is the Senior Specialist in Archaeology at SEAMEO-SPAFA, the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Archaelogy and Fine Arts.

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