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Report on Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) — November 2005


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 30, no. 11 (November 2005)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) July 2005 submarine eruption; discolored water and debris

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2005. Report on Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 30:11. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200511-284130



24.285°N, 141.481°E; summit elev. -29 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Notice of Fukutoku-Okanoba unrest in 2005 first came to Bulletin editors from Olivier Hyvernaud, information that was amplified by the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA) Volcanic Activity Reports of July and October 2005. The JMA reports contain information from the Japanese Marine Defense Forces as well as the Marine Security and Safety Agency and the Tokyo Institute of Technology. In addition, a Japan Coast Guard website (see URL below) contains a more extensive (and yet untranslated) table on recent events at Fukutoku-Okanoba, which includes photos and videos of the July eruption. That table clearly illustrates activity both earlier and later than the 2-3 July eruption, and several other details not discussed here, including the observation of numerous large and steaming blocks floating on the ocean surface at mid-day on 3 July. Bulletin editors hope to decipher this table and include more details in a later report.

The last five Bulletin reports discussing or mentioning Fukutoku-Okanoba appeared in BGVN 22:01, 24:11, 24:12, 25:05, and 28:06 (1997-2003). Note that the last four cases were considered ambiguous and grouped along with reports under the heading "Acoustic signals in 1999-2000 from unknown source, Volcano Islands, Japan" and only the first case was listed under the volcano name). A 3-d view of the volcano and its setting appears as figure 5.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Fukutoku-Okanoba and vicinity shown in a 3-dimensional diagram, with shading (or color) representing various elevation ranges (see key above); vertical exaggeration is considerable but was not stated. The inset contains an index map showing the Volcano islands along the Bonin trench. The diagram represents data from 1999 and views the region from the SE. Fukutoku-Okanoba is a submarine vent ~ 5 km N of the island (Minami-Iwo-jima). Copyrighted image courtesy of the Japan Coast Guard.

JMA reported that at about 1745 on 2 July 2005, a white plume was witnessed at Fukutoku-Okanoba. During an investigation at 1900 that same day, a white plume reached ~ 1 km above the sea surface. A photo taken from considerable distance was included in the JMA report, showing the plume, but the image's limited contrast has led to its exclusion here. In addition to the plume, other evidence for an eruption included debris on the sea surface. When seen on 2 July, the debris covered an area approximately 100 m wide and 300 m long.

JMA noted that 3 July aerial observations suggested that compared to the previous day, eruptive vigor and the height of the white plume had decreased. The key observation then was a zone of discolored seawater (figure 6).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. An aerial view of Fukutoku-Okanoba taken on 3 July 2005 as seen from the NE. Debris and discoloration extend from the arrow. Courtesy of the Maritime Security and Safety Agency.

JMA's report of 4 and 5 July aerial investigations noted the lack of a white vapor plume over the sea. In other words, the 2-3 July eruption had calmed, but fresh debris and seawater discoloration were still present. After that, aerial investigations on 15, 17, 20, and 21 July, again disclosed seawater discoloration, but not the presence of floating debris.

The Maritime Security and Safety Agency conducted an underwater topographical survey on 20-22 July 2005, the result of which was the discovery of two craters caused by the recent eruption. The results suggested that the topography just S of those craters was newly raised.

According to a 3 October aerial observer, the ocean surface near Fukutoku-Okanoba, then displayed a pale, blue-white discoloration, interpreted as indicative of volcanism. The area of discoloration extended ~ 300 m in length to the E and was ~ 50 m wide (N-S) at its widest point. However, in the surrounding area they saw no floating debris or plumes containing ash or steam. On 27 October, an aerial observation could not confirm the seawater discoloration.

Satellite data. M. Urai (2005) reported that three days after the 2 July 2005 eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba, satellite remote sensing using ASTER (Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer) observed the discolored seawater and floating materials within 40 km of the submarine volcano. Some of this abstract follows.

"At the most dense discolored seawater area, reflectance of ASTER band 1 is 3% higher [than] the surrounding seawater. The floating materials are similar in ASTER VNIR [Very Near-Infrared Radiometer] reflectance spectra to clouds, however, the floating materials can be separated from clouds using their shape and stereo image features. The extensions of discolored seawater area and floating material detected by ASTER were 6.34 km2 and 1.14 km2, respectively. It is possible to estimate the scale of [a] submarine eruption using the quantitative data derived from satellite remote sensing."

Distant hydrophones. Robert Dziak and Haru Matsumoto monitor N Pacific volcano seismicity with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency/Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (NOAA/PMEL). They initially learned of the eruption via the internet. Regarding the 2 July eruption, Dziak wrote to the Bulletin staff on 22 November 2005. Some of his messages follow.

". . . the [N] Pacific hydrophone array we use recorded seismicity during the Fukutoku-Okanoba eruption near Iwo Jima. I was aware of the eruption at the time [mid 2005] thanks to Haru [Matsumoto; he designed and built the instruments used there to record the T-wave events] forwarding a news image of the discolored water. Despite being only able to roughly locate the seismicity since it is way west of our array, I am pretty sure Fukutoku-Okanoba was the source because the arrival azimuths and timing of the signals were a match. The last earthquake activity we recorded from this area occurred on 25 September [2005] . . .. A few years ago I was contacting you [Smithsonian Institution] about our recording of harmonic tremor from a source in the Volcano Islands. The conclusion I published in JGR [Dziak and Fox, 2002] was that either Fukutoku-Okanoba or Funka-asane ([N] of Iwo Jima) was the probable source because of a history of submarine volcanic activity at both volcanoes. We have still been recording this tremor intermittently over the last few years and another pulse of it occurred during the Fukutoku-Okanoba eruption on July 2, 2005. The last occurrence was on August 22.

According to an Email from Dziak on 23 November 2005, "...I think the tremor is coming from [Fukutoku-Okanoba or Funka-asane]. I was only able to get synchronous data from the French Polynesian seismic net (Hyvernaud). They confirmed the signals but it did not help much with location because they were so far away. My thought is the source of earthquakes and tremor from these submarine volcanoes is at an ocean depth within the sound channel. This allows for very efficient seismic-acoustic coupling and acoustic propagation throughout the Pacific ocean basin."

References. Dziak, R.P., and Fox, C.G., 2002, Evidence of harmonic tremor from a submarine volcano detected across the Pacific Ocean basin: Journal of Geophysical Research, v. 107(B5), p. 2085; doi 10.1029/2001JB0001772085.

Kato, Y., 1988, Gray pumices drifted from Fukutoku-oka-no-ba to the Ryukyu Islands: Bulletin of the Volcanological Society of Japan, Second Series, v. 33, p. 21-30.

Ossaka, J., Mitsuno, C., Shibata, T., Matsuda, T., Hirabayashi, J., Tsuchide, M., Sakurai, M., and Sato, H., 1986, The 1986 submarine eruption of Fukutoku-okanoba, Part 2. Volcanic ejectas: Bull. Vol. Soc. Japan, v. 31, p. 134-135.

Urai, M., 2005, Monitoring submarine volcano with satellite remote sensing: Eos Trans, AGU, v. 86(52), Fall Meet. Suppl., Abstract 611A-1176.

Geological Summary. Fukutoku-Oka-no-ba is a submarine volcano located 5 km NE of the island of Minami-Ioto. Water discoloration is frequently observed, and several ephemeral islands have formed in the 20th century. The first of these formed Shin-Ioto ("New Sulfur Island") in 1904, and the most recent island was formed in 1986. The volcano is part of an elongated edifice with two major topographic highs trending NNW-SSE, and is a trachyandesitic volcano geochemically similar to Ioto.

Information Contacts: Olivier Hyvernaud, Laboratoire de Géophysique, BP 640 Pamatai, Tahiti, French Polynesia; Japanese Meteorological Agency (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/JMA_HP/jma/indexe.html); Robert Dziak and Haru Matsumoto, NOAA PMEL, Hatfield Marine Science Center, 2115 SE Oregon State University Drive, Newport, OR 97365, USA; Yukio Hayakawa (URL: http://www.hayakawayukio.jp/English.html/); Daily Yomiuri News (URL: http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/); Reuters; Associated Press; Tokyo Institute of Technology, 2-12-1 O-Okayama, Meguro-ku, Tokyo 152-8551, Japan; Japan Coast Guard, Hydrographic and Oceanographic Department (URL: http://www1.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/GIJUTSUKOKUSAI/kaiikiDB/kaiyo24-2.htm); Japan Maritime Security and Safety Agency, Oceanic Information Section (URL: http://www1.kaiho.mlit.go.jp/).