Logo link to homepage

Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — May 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 5 (May 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Tephra clouds from frequent explosions

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199205-282030



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Island residents reported frequent explosions, ashfalls, and rumbling in early and mid-May. Ash plumes were observed rising to 1.5-2.0 km elevation by Japanese airline pilots on 1-3 May, and a plume was visible on a NOAA weather satellite image at 1538 on 1 May.

Recently, the volcano had been active several times a year, with frequent explosions producing ash clouds and detectable ashfall. During peaks in activity, ash clouds rose to 2-3 km height and tens of small explosions occurred per minute. Eruptive episodes typically lasted for a few days to a month. Explosions had been reported earlier in 1992 on 1-4, 10, and 25-31 January, 4-14 and 21-28 February, 2-4 and 11-12 March, and 15-16 April.

Geological Summary. The 8-km-long island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. One of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, it was in a state of intermittent Strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, between 1949 and 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest recorded 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 open 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; W. Gould, NOAA.