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Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — January 1980


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 5, no. 1 (January 1980)
Managing Editor: David Squires.

Suwanosejima (Japan) Explosions; incandescent tephra; 1979 activity summarized

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1980. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) (Squires, D., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 5:1. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198001-282030



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

A loud explosion from On-take summit crater occurred at about 0700 on 10 December, after three months of quiescence. The initial explosion produced a 1.5-km-high cloud, and smaller explosions continued for about 3 hours. Ash clouds then decreased, but ejections of incandescent material and reflected glow were seen that night. Activity decreased further to weak ash emission the next day, although glow in the summit crater were seen from the air on 12 December. The explosions caused no damage on the island.

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: JMA, Tokyo.