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Report on Unzendake (Japan) — October 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 10 (October 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Unzendake (Japan) Continued lava dome growth and pyroclastic flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Unzendake (Japan) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199110-282100



32.761°N, 130.299°E; summit elev. 1483 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Growth of the lava dome . . . continued through mid-November and partial dome collapses frequently generated pyroclastic flows. Seismicity had declined to relatively low levels since extrusion of dome 4 started in mid-September. A seismic swarm began beneath the dome on 24 October, gradually increasing through mid-November. The seismicity buildup was similar to those of August and September, which culminated in the appearance of domes 3 and 4, respectively, although the rate of increase was slower for the current swarm. Uplift at the boundary between domes 3 and 4, first noted from the air on 25 October, was continuing in mid-November, suggesting magma intrusion under or into dome 4. As of 14 November, dome 4 was 500 m long, 400 m wide, and 250 m high. Dome and pyroclastic flow volumes were used to estimate a total of about 4 x 107 m3 of magma erupted between May and the end of October.

Pyroclastic flows, mainly from dome 4, moved down the Oshiga and Mizunashi valleys, as in September. Most have been relatively small since the eruption's largest pyroclastic flow on 15 September. Ash clouds generated by the larger flows reached about 2 km height. The number of pyroclastic flows, counted seismically, declined gradually through October (to 439, from 521 in September) and markedly since 11 November.

Geological Summary. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. An E-W graben, 30-40 km long, extends across the peninsula. Three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south, form topographic highs on the broad peninsula. Fugendake and Mayuyama volcanoes in the east-central portion of the andesitic-to-dacitic volcanic complex have been active during the Holocene. The Mayuyama lava dome complex, located along the eastern coast west of Shimabara City, formed about 4000 years ago and was the source of a devastating 1792 CE debris avalanche and tsunami. Historical eruptive activity has been restricted to the summit and flanks of Fugendake. The latest activity during 1990-95 formed a lava dome at the summit, accompanied by pyroclastic flows that caused fatalities and damaged populated areas near Shimabara City.

Information Contacts: JMA.