Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — April 1988

Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 13, no. 4 (April 1988)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland

Suwanosejima (Japan) Small explosions; light ashfall

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1988. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan). In: McClelland, L (ed.), Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 13:4. Smithsonian Institution.

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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Small explosions were heard by residents of the island at a rate of 5-6/day between 0500 and 1500 on 13 April. Ash plumes rose 500-600 m, sometimes accompanied by roaring sounds or air shocks. On 15 April, continued 500-600-m-high ash emission began at 0530. A Japan Air System (formerly TDA airline) pilot saw an ash cloud moving S at 1,800-2,100 m altitude (1,000-1,300 m above the summit) at 0848. A light ashfall was observed at a harbor on the island, but no explosions were heard and no air shocks were felt that day. No explosions were reported the following day.

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.