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Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — December 1994


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 19, no. 12 (December 1994)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Intermittent weak eruptions throughout 1994 cause ashfall on the island

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1994. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 19:12. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199412-282030



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Weak ash eruptions were observed and explosion sounds were heard by local residents throughout 1994. Heavy ash sometimes fell in a village on the island. Occasional ash emissions occurred in mid-February, with ashfall reported on the 11th. Emissions began again in mid-March, with ash falls on the island on 19 and 27 March. The next month, ash eruptions took place on 3-4 and 30 April. Frequent ash ejections during 8-12 May also caused ashfall on the island; detonations were heard on the 8th. Ash ejections were again observed on 14-21 and 29-30 July, with ashfall on the 15th and 20th. Detonations and ashfall were again reported on 12 August. Ashfall was frequent in September and the second half of October, with larger volumes on 13-14 and 31 October. Ash emission in December was observed at the beginning and end of the month, with ashfall on 1-4 and 31 December; rumbling was heard the night of the 3rd.

Geological Summary. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped 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. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical 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 horseshoe-shaped 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; Y. Sawada, JMA; D. Shackleford, Fullerton, CA.