In February 1994 a large eruption continued a pattern of activity that Mt. Semeru volcano—the highest mountain in Java, Indonesia—has exhibited since 1967. Mt. Semeru lies south of the Tengger Caldera, which encloses the volcano Mt. Bromo. Together, they form one of the largest volcanic complexes in the province of East Java.

Although Mt. Semeru is one of the most continuously active volcanos in Indonesia, it has been the subject of few scientific investigations. Observations of the volcano's activity are made from a distance and compiled in monthly and annual reports by the Volcanological Survey of Indonesia (VSI), but the most recent detailed map of the summit region was published in 1938 in the Atlas of the Dutch Colonies.