Report on Suwanosejima (Japan) — 13 January-19 January 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
13 January-19 January 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Suwanosejima (Japan). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 13 January-19 January 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
29.638°N, 129.714°E; summit elev. 796 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
JMA reported that incandescence at Suwanosejima’s Ontake Crater was visible nightly during 11-15 January. Intermittent explosions produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1.4 km above the crater rim and ejected bombs 400 m away from the crater. The Alert Level was lowered to 2 (on a 5-level scale) on 14 January; JMA noted that no large bombs were ejected more than 1 km from the crater beginning on 29 December 2020.
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.