Volcano and Lake Batur

view from Kintamani on Mt Batur (left) and Lake Batur

History of the Batur Volcano

Around 23,000 BC, during the cataclysms that marked the forelast shift of the earth's poles, an explosion of incredible magnitude formed the gigantic Batur caldera which today has a diameter of ca. 13 km - one of the largest and most impressive in the world. Before that eruption Mt Batur rose about 3,800 m above sea level and it was thus higher than Mt Agung (3,142 m / 10,308 feet).

Mount Batur 25,000 years ago

around 23,000 BC Mt. Batur was much higher than Mt. Agung (left)

Another heavy eruption took place around 10,500 BC - at the time of the last shift of the earth's poles - and formed a smaller, secondary crater with a diameter of ca. 7,5 km in the southeastern part of the larger caldera, nowadays marked by the Bali Aga villages of Songan and the popular panoramic viewpoint of Penelokan, with the current volcanic cone in its center.

The Batur caldera therefore actually consists of a gigantic, double elliptic crater with a total diameter of 10 x 13 km.

Mount Batur today

Mt. Batur and its enormous crater today

Unlike the volcanoes of Hawaii, where the magmas flow freely and accumulate gradually as spreading lava sheets, Indonesian magmas are highly viscous and move far less readily. On reaching the surface, these slow-moving magmas have time to cool, periodically blocking release of the pent up forces beneath. Thus trapped, great reservoirs of liquid magma accumulate within the volcano, building up pressure until the earth can contain it no longer. Without warning the top of the volcano gives way and the contained magma bursts forth with unimaginable violence.

With the passage of time the volcano, its core now emptied, slowly collapses back within itself to form a giant sunken crater or caldera. Eventually, as fresh magma reaches the surface, new volcanic vents may appear within the caldera, slowly occluding it as discharged ash and lava gradually continue to accumulate.

Mount Batur today

Mt. Batur as we know it today was formed by an eruption in 1917; it is a still active, secondary volcanic cone sporting numerous subsidiary vents around its flanks. Measured from the floor of the crater it rises within the circling embrace of the caldera to a height of ca. 700 meter (1,717 meter / 5,633 feet above sea level).

The eruptions of Mt Batur have been registered since 1804 and since that time 22 eruptions of the volcano have occurred.

Since 1917 Mt Batur erupted three more times (1926, 1974, 1994), on each occasion shifting a little more to the west, creating new sub craters that are referred to as Batur I, II and III respectively.

Mount Batur

clearly visible Batur's sub-craters and the black lava field
of the 1994 eruption

As it grows through frequent minor (and occasionally not so minor!) eruptions it gradually enlarges its base at the expense of the lake, which is slowly shrinking in consequence.

With an altitude of 1,746 m Mt Penulisan forms the second highest point of the caldera rim; here one can find the mysterious Pura Tegeh Koripan, the highest and probably also the oldest temple of Bali.

Idyllically located in an isolated area along the eastern shore of lake Batur at the foot of Mount Abang, with an altitude of 2,152 meter (7,467 feet) the highest point of the caldera rim, lies the Bali Aga village of Trunyan.

lake Batur getting overcast

Lake Batur

Lake Batur fills a large part of the smaller, secundary caldera

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