Report on Ontakesan (Japan) — January 1980
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 1 (January 1980)
Managing Editor: David Squires.
Ontakesan (Japan) Vapor emission continues; acid water kills fish
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1980. Report on Ontakesan (Japan). In: Squires, D (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 5:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198001-283040.
35.893°N, 137.48°E; summit elev. 3067 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Steam from the 28 October vents rose steadily to 100-200 m through January. No ashfalls have been observed in inhabited areas on the flanks since November, although snow in the summit area has been [slightly] darkened by ash and colored yellow by sulfur during this period. Muddy acidic water has been flowing from the 28 October vents since the eruption, killing fish in the Otaki River. The number of dead fish decreased in January. Local earthquake activity remained at November-December levels, about 10 recorded events per day.
Geologic Background. The massive Ontakesan stratovolcano, the second highest volcano in Japan, lies at the southern end of the Northern Japan Alps. Ascending this volcano is one of the major objects of religious pilgrimage in central Japan. It is constructed within a largely buried 4 x 5 km caldera and occupies the southern end of the Norikura volcanic zone, which extends northward to Yakedake volcano. The older volcanic complex consisted of at least four major stratovolcanoes constructed from about 680,000 to about 420,000 years ago, after which Ontakesan was inactive for more than 300,000 years. The broad, elongated summit of the younger edifice is cut by a series of small explosion craters along a NNE-trending line. Several phreatic eruptions post-date the roughly 7300-year-old Akahoya tephra from Kikai caldera. The first historical eruption took place in 1979 from fissures near the summit. A non-eruptive landslide in 1984 produced a debris avalanche and lahar that swept down valleys south and east of the volcano. Very minor phreatic activity caused a dusting of ash near the summit in 1991 and 2007. A significant phreatic explosion in September 2014, when a large number of hikers were at or near the summit, resulted in many fatalities.
Information Contacts: JMA, Tokyo.