Report on Unzendake (Japan) — February 1995

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 20, no. 2 (February 1995)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Unzendake (Japan) Isolated tremors, but no eruptive activity or pyroclastic flows

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1995. Report on Unzendake (Japan). In: Wunderman, R (ed.), Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 20:2. Smithsonian Institution.

Volcano Profile |  Complete Bulletin



32.761°N, 130.299°E; summit elev. 1483 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Activity during February-March was characterized by almost no magma supply to the dome. The dike at the top of the endogenous dome had almost stopped moving in late January. No changes at the dome were observed during either helicopter or ground-based inspections. No large rockfalls or pyroclastic flows have occurred since early February. Emissions of SO2 from the dome declined to below the COSPEC detection limit, according to SEVO (Shimabara Earthquake and Volcano Observatory, Kyushu University).

Dome outlines observed from several fixed points using theodolite by both SEVO and JMA showed no change during February. EDM measurements by the Geological Survey of Japan indicated that mirrors located on the upper NW to SW flanks near the dome moved little, except one 500 m SW of the dome. The distance between the latter mirror and a point ~1.5 km S has been decreasing at a steady rate of ~0.3 mm/day during the last four years (there were no data prior to dome extrusion).

Except for a swarm of 55 events on 4 February, microearthquakes beneath the lava dome occurred at a rate of <5/day. A total of 81 events registered in February at the seismic station 3.6 km SW of the dome. However, there have been isolated tremors, but these were much smaller and scarcer that those that preceded dome extrusion in 1991. Only two pyroclastic flows were detected at a seismic station 1 km WSW of the dome, both of which traveled ~500 m SE.

Geologic Background. The massive Unzendake volcanic complex comprises much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of the city of Nagasaki. An E-W graben, 30-40 km long, extends across the peninsula. Three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south, form topographic highs on the broad peninsula. Fugendake and Mayuyama volcanoes in the east-central portion of the andesitic-to-dacitic volcanic complex have been active during the Holocene. The Mayuyama lava dome complex, located along the eastern coast west of Shimabara City, formed about 4000 years ago and was the source of a devastating 1792 CE debris avalanche and tsunami. Historical eruptive activity has been restricted to the summit and flanks of Fugendake. The latest activity during 1990-95 formed a lava dome at the summit, accompanied by pyroclastic flows that caused fatalities and damaged populated areas near Shimabara City.

Information Contacts: Setsuya Nakada, Volcano Research Center - Earthquake Research Institute, University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan; Volcanological Affairs Office, Seismological and Volcanological Dept, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100 Japan.