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Report on Aira (Japan) — 24 March-30 March 2021


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
24 March-30 March 2021
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2021. Report on Aira (Japan). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 March-30 March 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (24 March-30 March 2021)



31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

JMA reported that during 22-26 March incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera's Sakurajima volcano) was visible nightly. An explosion on 25 March produced an eruption plume that rose 1.4 km above the crater rim. On 27 March at 0236 an eruption generated an ash plume that rose 2.5-4 km above the crater rim and drifted NW, resulting in a large amount of ashfall in Kagoshima City (about 10 km W). Volcanic bombs were ejected 1-1.3 km away from the crater. An eruption on 29 March at 1557 produced an eruption plume that rose 2.2 km above the crater rim and drifted SE, resulting in a pyroclastic flow down the SE flank and ashfall in Kagoshima City and the Kagoshima Prefecture. An explosion on 30 March at 0433 generated an ash plume that rose 2.7 km above the crater and drifted E, ejecting bombs 600-900 m from the crater. Ashfall was again reported in Kagoshima City. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

Geological Summary. 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.

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)