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Report on Aira (Japan) — October 2000


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 25, no. 10 (October 2000)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Aira (Japan) Explosion, lapilli and ash fall; pilot encounters ash cloud on 7 October

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2000. Report on Aira (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 25:10. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200010-282080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

According to observation reports by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Minami-dake, the southernmost crater of Sakura-jima, erupted at 1642 on 7 October, marking the 132nd explosion this year. The eruption column reached 5 km above the crater, and was accompanied by volcanic lightning 18 times. The maximum amplitude of the earthquake associated with the explosion was 4 µm at the JMA observation point 4.6 km WNW of Minami-dake. Abundant ash fell over the central and northern sections of Kagoshima. Lapilli with a maximum size of 3 cm fell on the NW portion of the island, breaking 35 car windshields.

A pilot en route from Guam to Fukuoka received a dispatch warning of a major ash cloud in the flight path. The pilot saw the cloud clearly at a distance of 80 km from Sakura-jima and noted a small white plume over the summit. The pilot also observed a brown-red cloud downwind and SE of the volcano at an altitude of 2.5 km. As the aircraft approached, the plume grew suddenly larger and became dark gray during an eruption of ~30-45 seconds duration. The pilot deviated 19 km to the W while descending and flew past the cloud at an altitude of 5.5 km. After passing safely, the pilot observed the ash cloud diffusing ~100 km downwind at an altitude level with the summit. This incident highlights the importance of efficient information relay from field observers through a dispatch to pilots in order to avoid potentially hazardous in-flight ash encounters. As of 17 October no distinct changes in activity at Sakura-jima have been observed, although a small number of volcanic earthquakes have occurred.

Reference. Casadevall, T.J., 1994, Volcanic ash and aviation safety: Proceedings of the First International Symposium on Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety: U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2047.

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: JMA-Fukuoka, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), 1-3-4 Ote-machi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100, Japan; Setsuya Nakada, Volcano Research Center, 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).