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Report on Aira (Japan) — July 1991


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 16, no. 7 (July 1991)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Aira (Japan) Frequent explosions; aircraft windshield damaged

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1991. Report on Aira (Japan) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 16:7. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199107-282080



31.5772°N, 130.6589°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Eighteen explosions occurred . . . in July . . ., bringing the yearly total to 171. Ejecta from an explosion at 1057 on 5 August struck the windshield of a Boeing 737 airliner 13 minutes later as it flew at an altitude of 1.2 km, 10 km N of the volcano. A crack 50 cm long formed in the outer surface of the windshield, but the plane (domestic flight ANK 793) landed its 122 passengers and five crew safely. Dense weather clouds had prevented the pilot from seeing the eruption plume. This was the first incident of in-flight damage since 24 June 1986, and the 12th near the volcano since 1975. A car windshield a few kilometers from the crater was cracked by ejecta from another explosion (at 1249) the same day. These were the third and fourth cases of explosion-related damage in 1991.

On 23 July, the month's highest ash cloud rose 2,500 m. Prevailing wind directions prevented ash from being deposited at [KLMO]. Earthquake swarms, not unusual for Sakura-jima, were recorded on 1, 2, 9, 15, 18, 21, and 22 July.

Geological Summary. The Aira caldera in the northern half of Kagoshima Bay contains the post-caldera Sakurajima volcano, one of Japan's most active. Eruption of the voluminous Ito pyroclastic flow accompanied formation of the 17 x 23 km caldera about 22,000 years ago. The smaller Wakamiko caldera was formed during the early Holocene in the NE corner of the caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim and built an island that was joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent eruptions since the 8th century have deposited ash on the city of Kagoshima, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest recorded eruption took place during 1471-76.

Information Contacts: JMA.