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Nat Commun. 2019 Oct 1;10(1):4339. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-12284-5.

Complex hazard cascade culminating in the Anak Krakatau sector collapse.

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GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14473, Potsdam, Germany.
GFZ German Research Centre for Geosciences, Helmholtz Centre Potsdam, Telegrafenberg, 14473, Potsdam, Germany.
Institute of Photogrammetry and GeoInformation, Leibniz University Hannover, 30167, Hannover, Germany.
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Torino, Via Valperga Caluso 35, Torino, 10125, Italy.
Department of Earth Sciences, Uppsala University, Villavägen 16, Uppsala, 75236, Sweden.
Faculty of Geological Engineering, Universitas Padjajaran (UNPAD), Jatinangor, 45363, Bandung, Indonesia.
Institute for Geological Sciences, Freie Universität Berlin, Malteserstraße 74-100, Berlin, 12249, Germany.
Department of Computer Vision & Remote Sensing, Technische Universität Berlin, Marchstr. 23, Berlin, 10587, Germany.
Earthquake and Tsunami Center, Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG), Jl. Angkasa 1 No. 2, 10610 DKI, Jakarta, Indonesia.
LAPAN, Remote Sensing Application Center, Jl. Kalisari N0. 8, Pekayon Pasar Rebo, Jakarta, Indonesia.
Volcano Research and Monitoring Division, CVGHM - Geological Agency of Indonesia, Jl. Diponegoro No. 57, Bandung, 40228, Indonesia.
Dipartimento di Scienze della Terra, Università di Firenze, Via La Pira 4, Firenze, 50121, Italy.
BGR, Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources, Stilleweg 2, Hannover, 30655, Germany.


Flank instability and sector collapses, which pose major threats, are common on volcanic islands. On 22 Dec 2018, a sector collapse event occurred at Anak Krakatau volcano in the Sunda Strait, triggering a deadly tsunami. Here we use multiparametric ground-based and space-borne data to show that prior to its collapse, the volcano exhibited an elevated state of activity, including precursory thermal anomalies, an increase in the island's surface area, and a gradual seaward motion of its southwestern flank on a dipping décollement. Two minutes after a small earthquake, seismic signals characterize the collapse of the volcano's flank at 13:55 UTC. This sector collapse decapitated the cone-shaped edifice and triggered a tsunami that caused 430 fatalities. We discuss the nature of the precursor processes underpinning the collapse that culminated in a complex hazard cascade with important implications for the early detection of potential flank instability at other volcanoes.

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