Viewing Volcano Eruptions from Space
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Viewing Volcano Eruptions from Space


Satellite imagery is used to monitor the impact of volcano eruptions and predict future risk. This article will demonstrate how Proimagery uses remote sensing to evaluate risk before emergency response crews arrive.

Mt. Merapi eruption – June 21, 2020

Mt Merapi is a stratovolcano located on the border between Central Java and the special region of Yogyakarta in Indonesia.  It is one of the most active volcanoes in the world and erupted twice on Sunday, June 21, 2020. The eruption started at 9:13 AM local time and the second eruption happened at 9:27 AM local time. The two eruptions lasted at around 7 minutes based on local reports and sent a cloud of grey ash at around 6000 meters into the sky.

Mt Merapi - May 24, 2020 satellite imageryMt Merapi satellite imagery - June 21, 2020
Mt. Merapi as seen from space in normal conditions (left) vs. the active volcano (right)


The Volcano is active and locals have been on alert since 2018.  It last erupted on April 10, 2020, at 9:10 AM where ash rose as high as 3,000 meters above the summit.

Mt. Merapi’s deadly history

Mt Merapi has erupted many times throughout history. The most notable eruptions were:

  • In 2010, it killed more than 300 people and forced the evacuation of  280,000 residents from surrounding areas
  • In 1930, it killed 1300 people

Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and inlets and is home to nearly 130 active volcanoes. It is located in the Ring of Fire; a region around much of the rim of the Pacific Ocean where numerous volcanic eruptions and earthquakes occur


Since then, a 3-kilometer exclusion zone around the main crater of Merapi volcano is in place by the authorities to prevent people from coming inside the danger zone of the volcano.


Satellite imagery can be used extensively to detect and quantify volcano damage during the crucial first several hours. This helps emergency response crews prioritize work and minimize risk to themselves. If you’re involved in disaster recovery and want to know how Proimagery can augment your team, feel free to reach out.

Update: Proimagery has also reported on the eruption of Mt. Sinabung on August 10, 2020.