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Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — August 2018


Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 43, no. 8 (August 2018)
Managing Editor: Edward Venzke. Edited by Janine B. Krippner.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Intermittent ash emission continues from January through June 2018

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2018. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) (Krippner, J.B., and Venzke, E., eds.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 43:8. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201808-282030



29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Suwanosejima volcano is located in the northern Ryukyu Islands in the south of Japan and has been on Alert Level 2 since December 2007. This report is a summary of activity for the period January to June 2018 and is based on information from the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) along with Tokyo VAAC notices.

During the reporting period, the active Otake crater produced intermittent explosions that scattered ejecta around the crater and ash plumes to an altitude of 1.5-3 km. Ashfall was reported in a village 4 km away on 10 days during January-May 2018 (table 14). Incandescence was visible at night using monitoring equipment. Ash plumes were noted by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) throughout the reporting period (figure 32, table 15).

Table 14. Reported explosion information for Suwanosejima recorded in JMA monthly reports.

Month No. of explosions Max plume height (m above crater) Dates of ashfall in village 4 km SSW No. of seismic events Other daily activity detail
Jan 2018 0 1,100 27, 31 97 Incandescence at night.
Feb 2018 1 1,100 2, 3 100 Incandescence at night.
Mar 2018 9 2,200 25, 29 251 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Apr 2018 8 2,000 18, 28, 29 62 Incandescence at night.
May 2018 2 1,100 14 90 Incandescence at night. Ejecta scattered around the crater.
Jun 2018 -- 900 -- 275 Incandescence at night.

Table 15. Number of Volcanic Ash Advisories, explosion dates, and plume heights for activity at Suwanosejima. The numbers in parentheses indicate the number of events on that date; the VAACs issued column does not include advisories that note a continued episode. Drift directions were highly variable. Data courtesy of Tokyo VAAC.

Month VAAs issued VAA dates Plume heights
Jan 2018 1 15 1.8 km
Feb 2018 1 2 1.2 km
Mar 2018 22 17, 22(3), 23, 25(2), 26(5), 27(5), 28(3), 29(2) 1.2-3.6 km
Apr 2018 16 1, 2, 3, 4(4), 5(2), 8, 11, 24, 27, 28(2) 1.2-2.4 km
May 2018 3 1, 4, 15 1-1.8 km
Jun 2018 1 1 --
Figure (see Caption) Figure 32. An ash plume at Suwanosejima reached 1 km above the crater on 3 February 2018. Image captured by the Kyanpuba webcam, courtesy of JMA (February 2018 monthly report).

Geological Summary. The 8-km-long, spindle-shaped island of Suwanosejima in the northern Ryukyu Islands consists of an andesitic stratovolcano with two historically active summit craters. The summit is truncated by a large breached crater extending to the sea on the east flank that was formed by edifice collapse. Suwanosejima, one of Japan's most frequently active volcanoes, was in a state of intermittent strombolian activity from Otake, the NE summit crater, that began in 1949 and lasted until 1996, after which periods of inactivity lengthened. The largest historical eruption took place in 1813-14, when thick scoria deposits blanketed residential areas, and the SW crater produced two lava flows that reached the western coast. At the end of the eruption the summit of Otake collapsed forming a large debris avalanche and creating the horseshoe-shaped Sakuchi caldera, which extends to the eastern coast. The island remained uninhabited for about 70 years after the 1813-1814 eruption. Lava flows reached the eastern coast of the island in 1884. Only about 50 people live on the island.

Information Contacts: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Otemachi, 1-3-4, Chiyoda-ku Tokyo 100-8122, Japan (URL: http://www.jma.go.jp/jma/indexe.html); Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC), 1-3-4 Otemachi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, Japan (URL: http://ds.data.jma.go.jp/svd/vaac/data/).