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Report on Aira (Japan) — May 1999


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 24, no. 5 (May 1999)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Aira (Japan) 1998-99 summary report; recent tephra deposits comprise about 3 x 105 tons/month

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1999. Report on Aira (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 24:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN199905-282080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The following summarizes activity at Sakura-jima during January-June 1998 and January-May 1999. Information concerning events in 1998 were provided through communications from Yosihiro Sawada forwarded by Dan Shackelford. More recent information is available at the Japanese Meteorological Agency website.

The amount of tephra deposited around the volcano peaked during 1991-92 (up to 5.8 x 106 tons/month) but has since decreased; present deposits are <3 x 105 tons/month.

Activity during January-June 1998. Ten explosions and eruptions were recorded in January 1998. One explosion, on 7 January, produced a plume that rose 1,200 m above the summit. An explosive outburst on 24 January produced a column of incandescent ejecta accompanied by volcanic lightning. The total ashfall measured at Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory (KLMO) during January amounted to 10 g/m2.

Silent ash emissions (eruptions without explosions) occurred on 8, 16, 25, and 27 February 1998. A plume on 16 February rose 1,400 m above the crater. In March 1998, 22 eruptions (without explosions) were recorded. Eruption plumes on 2 and 3 March rose 1,200 m. KLMO recorded 37 g/m2 of ash for March. In April 1998, there were 19 eruptions, including eight explosions. The highest plume during April was observed 1,500 m above the crater on 30 April. April ashfall totaled only 1 g/m2.

Forty-one eruptions were observed in May 1998, including 27 explosive eruptions. The highest plume observed rose 2,500 m above crater on 24 May. A volcanic earthquake swarm lasted seven hours on 19-20 May. The total May ashfall was 105 g/m2. All five eruptions recorded during June were explosive. On 6 June an eruption plume rose 1,100 m above the crater. The total June ashfall deposit was 5 g/m2 thick.

Activity during January-May 1999. January 1999 was characterized by a low level of volcanic earthquakes, although 13 eruptions occurred. During February-April 1999 observers recorded 44 eruptions, including 15 explosions. Eruptive activity was relatively high during 11-16 March when there were 10 eruptions, including eight explosions. An eruption column rose 1,800 m on 20 April.

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: Yosihiro Sawada, Volcanological Division, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Volcano Research Center, Earthquake Research Institute (ERI), University of Tokyo, Yayoi 1-1-1, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113, Japan (URL: http://www.eri.u-tokyo.ac.jp/VRC/index_E.html); Dan Shackelford, 3124 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Apt. H-33, Fullerton, CA 92831-2324 USA.