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Report on Aira (Japan) — June 1994


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 19, no. 6 (June 1994)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Aira (Japan) Frequent explosions; ashfall

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1994. Report on Aira (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 19:6. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199406-282080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

No damage was caused by any of the 31 eruptions that occurred in June, 19 of which were explosive. Frequent explosions continued through early July. The highest ash plume rose to 2,600 m at 1624 on 7 June. Volcanic earthquake swarms were detected between 1400 and 2200 on 27 June, and during 1600-2200 on the 29th; maximum amplitude was 1.0 µm. [KLMO] measured 31 g/m3 of ashfall during the month.

The following report is from Steve O'Meara. Around 1700 on 29 May the volcano was heavily emitting steam with sand-colored ash. By 1719 part of the steam cloud contained gray ash, giving the appearance of "zebra stripes" in the column. A strong gray cloud was being erupted by 1803 and being blown E by the wind. At 0500 on 30 May, very little steam was evident, however, by 0850 the steam was thicker, and by 1022 an ash eruption was producing gritty ashfall halfway across the bay from Kagoshima city. From the Unohira lookout station W of the volcano, observers noted large ash plumes being released every few seconds. No eruption sounds were detected until 1127 when a low-pitched banging noise could be heard. Ash was accumulating rapidly at the station; by 1135 the ash cloud was filling the intervening valley. Additional observations from the SE and S later that afternoon included steam and steam-and-ash emissions with roaring, rumbling, or jetting sounds. A heavier eruption began in pulses at 1530-1600, with large, sustained ash clouds released about every 5 minutes. A large ash cloud remained at least through 2200, and the eruption was over by 1150 the next day (31 May). Another eruption began at 1630 on 31 May. It sent ash plumes towards Kagoshima and was accompanied by sounds like muted cannon fire.

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; S. O'Meara, Sky & Telescope.