My name is Jay Wellik. I am a Peace Corps Masters International student at Michigan Technological University studying volcanology and natural hazards. My Peace Corps assignment has me located in Banyuwangi, Indonesia which allows me to work with PVMBG employees at the Raung volcano observatory (acronym: Pusat Volkonologi dan Mitigasi Bencana Geologi; english: CVGHM, Center for Volcanology and Geologic Hazards Mitigation).
Both the Raung and Ijen posts are newly renovated and are now equipped with digital seismic recording instruments. My current goals at the post are to install and introduce digital waveform analysis software packages such as SEISAN and SWARM to the observatory staff. Work at the Raung post is closely tied to work and observations made at the Ijen post. These two volcanoes are close in proximity and may be linked magmatically. Unfortunately, logistical restrictions such as travel time and transport availability prohibit me from making trips to the Ijen post as frequently as to the Raung post. The new installation of digital recording devices, however, opens up Raung and Ijen to brand new research possibilities. Immediate activities include providing education in basic geologic and volcanic science to observatory staff members so that new scientific tools can be used more robustly in the future. Eventual research questions such as the endogenous connection between the two volcanoes and how their magmatic system is affected by large, distant seismic events is a probable research thrust.
In addition to my work at Raung and Ijen, I am continuing to pursue an interest in demographic trends related to volcanic hazards. In conjunction with a PhD student from Michigan Tech, I am working on a project to quantify relative threat scores at each volcano across the globe. The purpose of this project is to provide some sort of meaningful hazard comparison across the entire planet that can be used to analyze long term population trends in the context of potential disaster. This project has special relevance to Java, which is densely populated with both people and volcanoes.
Last but not least, my placement as a Peace Corps volunteer in East Java allows me the unique opportunity to explore and experience some of Indonesia’s special cultural connections to volcanoes. In East Java alone, Gunung Bromo, Kawah Ijen, and Gunung Lawu all have intriguing social components to their natural existence as active volcanoes. The dialectic nature of volcanoes as bearers of life and disastrous harbingers of change is evident in both the art and culture of the Javanese people.