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Report on Aira (Japan) — January 1998


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 23, no. 1 (January 1998)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Aira (Japan) Increased number of explosions during December-January

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1998. Report on Aira (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 23:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199801-282080



31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A 4 February report stated that Sakura-jima was relatively quiet throughout most of 1997. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 4,466 tremors occurred in 1997, the lowest annual total since 1965. The total number of 1997 explosions was 35; the record low was set in 1971 when only 10 explosions occurred.

Activity increased during December 1997-January 1998. During December, eight explosions were observed; during 1-27 January there were ten. According to the Sakurajima Volcanological Observatory (SVO), type-A and type-B earthquake counts were relatively high both months.

A 3 December 1997 explosion issued at least 70,000 tons of ash, the estimated mass of fallout on Sakura-jima island. According to a volcanic ash advisory issued to aviators by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center, the eruption occurred at 1055 and sent ash up to ~3 km. The ash cloud extended 25 km S and 50 km E.

A 24 January 1998 ash advisory reported an eruption at 1750 and ash drifting SE at a height of ~1 km. A ground-based observer reported an ash plume that extended 10 km SE at 2000. Due to cloud cover in the area, ash was not seen on satellite images.

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 Aira caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim of Aira caldera and built an island that was finally joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent historical eruptions, recorded since the 8th century, have deposited ash on Kagoshima, one of Kyushu's largest cities, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76.

Information Contacts: Sakurajima Volcanological Observatory (SVO), Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI), Kyoto University, Sakurajima, Kagoshima, 891-14, Japan; Volcanological Division, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan.