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Report on Adatarayama (Japan) — September 1997


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 22, no. 9 (September 1997)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Adatarayama (Japan) Four hikers killed in a gas-filled depression

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1997. Report on Adatarayama (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 22:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199709-283170



37.647°N, 140.281°E; summit elev. 1728 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Four hikers died from inhalation of volcanic gases after being exposed to fumes on the floor of Numano-taira (also called Numano-daira) crater on 15 September. The hikers were part of a group of 14 Tokyo barbers who became disoriented in foggy conditions and departed from a trail. After three hikers fell at the head of a small valley in the S rim of the crater, another member of the party attempted a rescue but also fell to the floor of the crater, where deadly gases had accumulated due to light northerly winds. Other hikers in the area noticed a strong sulfuric odor, warned others of the danger, and climbed to higher ground. Signs warning of the volcanic gas hazard were posted at the trail head.

According to scientists at the Kusatsu-Shirane Volcano Observatory, fumarolic gas from the SW part of the crater is composed of 0.5% SO2, 60-65% H2S and 33-37% CO2. Gas collected in July from a mud pond on the crater floor contained 41% H2S and 56% CO2. The most likely reason for the fatalities was the presence of the H2S and the calm wind conditions that allowed gases to accumulate in the lowest part of the crater.

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) released a report on recent activity at the volcano including a volcanic gas advisory on 15 September. The report details 5 volcanic earthquakes that occurred in August and increased mud spouting and fumarolic activity. Other activity reported at the crater included mud effusion at three pits on the crater floor in July and August 1996 as well as a very small-scale phreatic explosion on 1 September 1996 (BGVN 21:08).

Geological Summary. The broad forested massif of Adatarayama volcano is located E of Bandai volcano, about 15 km SW of Fukushima city. It consists of a group of dominantly andesitic stratovolcanoes and lava domes that rise above Tertiary rocks on the south and abut Azumayama volcano on the north. Construction took place in three main stages that began about 550,000, 350,000, and 200,000 years ago. The high point of the complex is 1728-m-high Minowasan, a dome-shaped stratovolcano north of Tetsuzan, the currently active stratovolcano. Numanotaira, the active summit crater, is surrounded by hot springs and fumaroles and is breached by the Iogawa river ("Sulfur River") on the west. Seventy-two workers of a sulfur mine in the summit crater were killed during an eruption in 1900. Historical eruptions have been restricted to the 1.2-km-wide, 350-m-deep Numonotaira crater.

Information Contacts: Jun-ichi Hirabayashi, Kusatsu-Shirane Volcano Observatory, Tokyo Institute of Technology, Kusatsu, Agatsuma-gun, Gunma 377-17, Japan; Noritake Nishide, Sendai District Meteorological Observatory, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3- 15 Gorin, Miyagino-ku, Sendai 983, Japan; Yoshihisa Kawanabe, Volcanology Section, Environmental Geology Department, Geological Survey of Japan, 1-1-3, Higashi, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, 305 Japan; Tatsuro Chiba, Dept of Disaster Prevention, Asia Air Survey Co., 4-2-18 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160, Japan (URL: http://www.ajiko.co.jp/en/); Volcano Research Center, University of Tokyo, Yayoi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html).