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Report on Aira (Japan) — May 2004


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 29, no. 5 (May 2004)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Aira (Japan) Frequent eruptions and ash plumes; 15 May plume noted by news media

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2004. Report on Aira (Japan) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 29:5. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN200405-282080



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Based on information from the Japanese Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) reported that on 3 December 2003 at 2025 ash was emitted from Sakura-jima, rose to ~2.5 km a.s.l., and extended to the S. An eruption on 12 January 2004 at ~1430 produced an ash cloud that rose higher than 2 km altitude. On 19 and 20 February, explosions produced ash clouds that rose to unknown heights. No ash was visible on satellite imagery. Based on JMA information, the Tokyo VAAC reported that explosions on 26 March at 1715 and 27 March at 0607 produced plumes that extended S and rose to ~2.5 km and ~2 km altitude, respectively.

An eruption on 17 April produced a gas-and-ash plume that rose to ~3 km altitude and extended W. Another eruption on 25 April produced an ash plume that rose to ~2.4 km altitude. and extended N. The Tokyo VAAC reported, based on information from the JMA, that an eruption occurred on 28 April at 1820. It produced a plume that rose to ~2.4 km altitude and drifted SE. No ash was visible on satellite imagery.

According to the Har-Tass news agency, JMA reported a powerful ash-bearing discharge on 15 May at 1107. Specialists stated that the activity was the most intensive in four years. There were no reports of damage or injuries. The explosion registered as 'large' on the JMA's scale for both the sound and the strength of the tremor it caused, according to a quoted official at the local agency office in Kagoshima.

The Tokyo VAAC said the ash plume rose to more than 1.8 km altitude. An explosion occurred on 17 May at 1946, sending an ash plume to a height of 2.1 km altitude. On 18 May a pilot reported ash at a height of ~1.2 km altitude and ~23 km S of the Amori region. During 19-24 May, several explosions produced ash clouds. The highest reported ash cloud reached ~2.4 km altitude on 24 May. An explosion on 20 June at 1523 produced an ash cloud that rose to an unknown height.

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: Naokuni Uchida, Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Fukuoka, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) (URL: https://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).