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Report on Asosan (Japan) — June 1992


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 17, no. 6 (June 1992)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Asosan (Japan) Explosions follow increased seismicity and heating of crater lake

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1992. Report on Asosan (Japan) (McClelland, L., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 17:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199206-282110



32.8849°N, 131.085°E; summit elev. 1592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Eruptions that occurred from Crater 1 during the night of 30 June-1 July were the first [strong explosions] since . . . December 1990. The daily number of isolated volcanic tremor episodes began to increase in October 1991, and had reached ~100/day by the end of May. Isolated tremor episodes rapidly became more frequent in late June, and the amplitude of continuous tremor also increased through the month.

Ejections of mud and water from the lake in Crater 1 were first noted on 23 April and were sporadically observed later in April and in May. The ejections became more vigorous in late June, increasing in height from 5 m on 24 June to 20 m on the 26th, 50 m on the 29th, and 150 m on the 30th. Surface temperatures of the lake water increased from around 20°C in May 1991 to 78°C in June 1992. Steam plumes also grew to 1,000 m height in late June.

Strong tremor episodes were recorded during the night of 30 June-1 July. During fieldwork at noon on 1 July, the crater was quiet, but many blocks to 0.8 m across had been scattered to 100 m from the crater's NE rim. The eruptions were not seen or heard, but seismic and air-vibration records suggested that they may have occurred at 2349 on 30 June and 0316 on 1 July.

Tremor decreased in early July, but remained at higher levels than in mid-June. Ejections of mud and water to heights of a few tens of meters occurred sporadically through early July, but no additional strong mud/water ejections or eruptions were reported.

Because of the increasing activity, the area within 1 km of the crater was closed to tourists on 24 June, and remained closed as of mid-July.

Geological Summary. The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Information Contacts: JMA.