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Report on Asamayama (Japan) — April 1982


Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, vol. 7, no. 4 (April 1982)
Managing Editor: Lindsay McClelland.

Asamayama (Japan) Explosions; small pyroclastic flow; ash falls on Tokyo

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 1982. Report on Asamayama (Japan) (McClelland, L., ed.). Scientific Event Alert Network Bulletin, 7:4. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.SEAN198204-283110



36.406°N, 138.523°E; summit elev. 2568 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Asama erupted explosively from the summit crater at 0225 and 0548 on 26 April. No increase in the number of discrete earthquakes was recorded before the eruption, but 55 periods of volcanic tremor were recorded in March, the largest monthly total since Asama last erupted, 1 February-24 May 1973. The white vapor plume normally visible above Asama's summit grew substantially in 1981. Its maximum monthly height declined in late 1981 but had begun to increase again in early 1982 (figure 4).

Figure (see Caption) Figure 4. Top: Maximum monthly height (in kilometers) of the volcanic plume from Asama, January 1977-March 1982. Bottom: Monthly number of recorded seismic events at Asama, January 1977-March 1982. Courtesy of JMA.

Local residents heard the first detonation and volcanic rumbling at 0225. A sulfuric smell persisted after the explosion. From the N rim of the summit crater, two staff members of the volcano museum at the N foot of Asama witnessed an incandescent eruption column and a pyroclastic flow. Snow on the N slope of Asama melted, and a telemetry cable serving seismic instruments was cut by a debris flow 150 seconds after the eruption began. GMS infrared images showed that an eruption cloud less than 50 km in diameter had risen to about 4.5 km at 0300. The earthquake accompanying the first explosion had a magnitude of 2.0 and a ground-shock amplitude of 35 µm, as recorded at JMA's Karuizawa [Weather Station] 2 km S of the volcano. B-type earthquakes, volcanic tremor, and ash ejection followed the explosion for about 2 hours. Eruptive activity continued intermittently until the second, smaller explosion, which began with an earthquake of 4 µm amplitude and was accompanied by volcanic tremor that lasted 10 minutes. A satellite image did not show this cloud at 0600, nor were remnants of the cloud from the first explosion evident.

Ashfall was noted at the Karuizawa [Weather Station] from 0200 until around 0600. Wind carried the ejecta primarily SE (figure 5). Ash 2-3 cm thick accumulated 12 km SE and SW of Asama at Karuizawa and Komoro. For the first time in 21 years fine ash fell in the metropolitan Tokyo area, 130 km to the SE. The total amount of ash and lapilli was estimated to be about 10,000 tons; no juvenile tephra was found. A gray plume, 500-1,000 m high, was observed throughout the day 26 April. All of the day's 89 recorded seismic events occurred after the first explosion. The number of earthquakes per day had been at normal levels since February (figure 6) and returned to normal about 1900. By 27 April, activity was limited to a 300-m-high vapor plume. No more explosions had occurred as of 30 April. The kinetic energy of the eruption was estimated at 1018 ergs.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 5. Area of ashfall (shaded region) from the 0225 eruption of Asama, 26 April. Courtesy of JMA.
Figure (see Caption) Figure 6. Daily number of recorded seismic events at Asama, March-May 1982. The 26 April eruption is marked by an arrow. Courtesy of JMA.

Further References. Aramaki, S. and Hayakawa, Y., 1982, Ash-fall during the April 26, 1982 eruption of Asama volcano: Bulletin of the Volcanological Society of Japan, v. 27, no. 3, p. 203-215.

Shimozuru, D., Gyoda, N., Kagiyama, T., Koyama, E., Hagiwara, M., and Tsuji, H., 1982, The 1982 eruption of Asama volcano: Bulletin of the Earthquake Research Institute, Tokyo, v. 57, no. 3, p. 537-559.

Geological Summary. Asamayama, Honshu's most active volcano, overlooks the resort town of Karuizawa, 140 km NW of Tokyo. The volcano is located at the junction of the Izu-Marianas and NE Japan volcanic arcs. The modern Maekake cone forms the summit and is situated east of the horseshoe-shaped remnant of an older andesitic volcano, Kurofuyama, which was destroyed by a late-Pleistocene landslide about 20,000 years before present (BP). Growth of a dacitic shield volcano was accompanied by pumiceous pyroclastic flows, the largest of which occurred about 14,000-11,000 BP, and by growth of the Ko-Asama-yama lava dome on the east flank. Maekake, capped by the Kamayama pyroclastic cone that forms the present summit, is probably only a few thousand years old and has an historical record dating back at least to the 11th century CE. Maekake has had several major plinian eruptions, the last two of which occurred in 1108 (Asamayama's largest Holocene eruption) and 1783 CE.

Information Contacts: JMA, Tokyo; D. Shimozuru, ERI, Univ. of Tokyo; T. Tiba, National Science Museum, Tokyo; D. Haller, NOAA/NESS; UPI.