The Agung volcano in Indonesia has been in the news recently. At time of writing, observers are sending back reports of clouds and glows that suggest that major eruption could be imminent.
Evacuations of hundreds of thousands of people from the area have already been carried out. The authorities have cautiously allowed nearby airports to function, while keeping a close eye on the state of the volcano.
The business continuity impact on Indonesia is clear, with emergency services on the go, and the population and the tourist industry trying to cope with the disruption. Less obvious perhaps is the impact of Agung on the other side of the world.
This may sound a little like the classic chaos theory concept of a butterfly flapping its wings in the Pacific and setting off a storm, thousands of miles away.
It makes a nice story, but it may be difficult to give it much credence. On the other hand, a volcano has a much bigger impact and volcanic effects impacting different countries in 2010 is already a well-documented case.
It wasn’t the eruptions or shock waves, but the disruption caused by the risk that volcanic ash in the air would make planes crash.
The volcanic eruptions happened at Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland, but caused huge disruption to air travel across western and northern Europe for several days.
Iceland, if you know your geography, is isolated and at a significant distance from Europe. The volcanic eruptions were also relatively small, but they still played greater havoc with air travel than at any time since the Second World War.
Would anyone in London or Paris, for example, have believed that 10 million air travelers would be stopped in their tracks by natural events so far away, before they happened?
Likewise, the Agung volcano may seem distant, but it may be time for people in many other countries to revise or at least review their own business continuity plans.