Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — May 1992

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 5 (May 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Tephra clouds from frequent explosions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:5. Smithsonian Institution. http://dx.doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199205-282030.

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Suwanosejima

Japan

29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


Island residents reported frequent explosions, ashfalls, and rumbling in early and mid-May. Ash plumes were observed rising to 1.5-2.0 km elevation by Japanese airline pilots on 1-3 May, and a plume was visible on a NOAA weather satellite image at 1538 on 1 May.

Recently, the volcano had been active several times a year, with frequent explosions producing ash clouds and detectable ashfall. During peaks in activity, ash clouds rose to 2-3 km height and tens of small explosions occurred per minute. Eruptive episodes typically lasted for a few days to a month. Explosions had been reported earlier in 1992 on 1-4, 10, and 25-31 January, 4-14 and 21-28 February, 2-4 and 11-12 March, and 15-16 April.

Geologic Background. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit of the volcano is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

Information Contacts: JMA; W. Gould, NOAA.