Report on Aira (Japan) — November 1979
Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 4, no. 11 (November 1979)
Managing Editor: David Squires.
Aira (Japan) Explosion frequency doubles; aircraft damaged
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 1979. Report on Aira (Japan) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 4:11. Smithsonian Institution.
31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Explosions recorded at the JMA's Kagoshima Observatory, 11 km from Sakura-jima, were about twice as frequent in October and November as they were in September. Typically, an "explosion" consisted of a weak shock, registered both seismically and sonically, followed by ash ejection. Ash emission without an accompanying explosion occurred more often than the explosion-triggered events.
[The explosion at 1400 on 10 November was followed by about 20 minutes of tephra emission and continuous tremor.] Lightning was frequent in the tephra cloud, which deposited 2 cm of ash during a rainstorm at Furosato, 3 km from the crater. Lapilli cracked a car windshield and two cars collided after skidding on the wet ash.
The windshields of two domestic airliners were cracked as they flew into an eruption cloud near Sakura-jima at 0801 and 0805 on 18 November, about 20 minutes after a recorded explosion. In both cases, damage was restricted to the outermost of three sheets of glass, and the planes landed safely. Another 2 cm of ash fell at Furosato after this explosion.
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, Tokyo.