Report on Aira (Japan) — 15 July-21 July 2009
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 July-21 July 2009
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2009. Report on Aira (Japan). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 15 July-21 July 2009. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
Based on information from JMA, analyses of satellite imagery, and pilot observations, the Tokyo VAAC reported that during 15-21 July explosions from Sakura-jima's Showa crater occasionally produced plumes that rose to altitudes of 1.8-2.7 km (6,000-9,000 ft) a.s.l. Plumes were observed drifting SW, N, and NE. On 19 July, JMA raised the Alert Level from 2 to 3 (on a scale of 1-5). They noted increased frequency of explosive eruptions since late June, and shock waves that were detected on 18 and 19 July.
Geologic Background. 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.