Eruption of Mount Agung

On February 18, 1963, local residents heard loud explosions and saw clouds rising from the crater of Mount Agung.

On February 24, lava began flowing down the northern slope of the mountain, eventually traveling 7 km in the next 20 days. On March 17, the volcano erupted (VEI 5), sending debris 8–10 km into the air and generating massive pyroclastic flows. These flows devastated numerous villages, killing approximately 1500 people. Cold lahars caused by heavy rainfall after the eruption killed an additional 200. A second eruption on May 16 led to pyroclastic flows which killed another 200 inhabitants.

Mt. Agung in Bali which has been dormant for about hundred and twenty years showed increased activity on February 18 this year culminating with a paroxysmal eruption early in the morning on March 17; the second paroxysmal eruption occurred on May 16. The activity started with minor explosions in the main crater with the production of pyroclastics followed by the effusion of lavas which flowed over the lowest northern crater rim and the formation of nuées ardentes d’explosion which came down into the northwestern sector of the volcano. Successive nuées ardentes d’explosion which accompanied the paroxysmal cruption on March 17 and on May 16, came down along the southern, southeastern and northern slopes, devastating many villages. The first cycle of activity killed about 1700 people of which 1500 died from the nuées ardentes. Cold lahars, caused by heavy rainfall immediately after the eruption destroyed villages and constructions on the southern slope and killed about 200 more people.

The 3142-m-high summit of Agung contains a steep-walled, 500-m-wide, 200-m-deep crater. The flank cone Pawon is located low on the SE side of Gunung Agung. Only a few eruptions dating back to the early 19th century have been recorded from Agung in historical time. Agung's 1963-64 eruption, one of the world's largest of the 20th century, produced voluminous ashfall and devastating pyroclastic flows and lahars that caused extensive damage and many fatalities.