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Report on Asosan (Japan) — 1 May-7 May 2019


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 May-7 May 2019
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2019. Report on Asosan (Japan) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 1 May-7 May 2019. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (1 May-7 May 2019)



32.8849°N, 131.085°E; summit elev. 1592 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

JMA reported that sulfur dioxide emissions at Asosan’s Nakadake Crater continued to be very high at 3,200 tons per day on 2 May. At night during 2-3 May webcams recorded weak incandescence from the crater. At 1540 on 3 May a very small eruption produced an off-white plume that rose 600 m above the crater rim. Later that day, at 1948, an ash plume rose 2 km and, according to the Tokyo VAAC, drifted S. Emissions from eruptive events continued until 0620 on 5 May, rising to 500 m. Afterwards white plumes rose as high as 1.1 km, at least through 7 May. Crater incandescence continued to be visible.

During a field survey on 4 May ashfall was confirmed in areas downwind including parts of Takamori (7 km SSE), Minamiaso village (8 km SW), and Yamato (24 km SSW). Sulfur dioxide emissions were 4,000 tons per day on 4 May, and 3,100 tons per day on 6 May. The Alert Level remained at 2 (on a scale of 1-5).

Geological Summary. The 24-km-wide Asosan caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 km3 of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Nakadake, is one of Japan's most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan's first documented historical eruption in 553 CE. The Nakadake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 CE. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Nakadake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu's most popular tourist destinations.

Sources: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC)