Report on Aira (Japan) — 21 April-27 April 2021
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
21 April-27 April 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, 21 April-27 April 2021. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
31.593°N, 130.657°E; summit elev. 1117 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
JMA reported that during 19-26 April incandescence from Minamidake Crater (at Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) was visible nightly. There was a total of 16 explosions, producing ash plumes that rose as high as 2.3 km above the summit and ejected bombs 1-1.3 km away from the crater. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was somewhat high at 1,800 tons per day on 21 April. An explosion at 0109 on 25 April produced what was initially thought to be a pyroclastic flow, triggering JMA to warn residents beyond a 2-km radius to be cautious and vigilant. Scientists conducting field observations later that day did not observe pyroclastic flow deposits or damaged vegetation, and concluded that the plume phenomenon was generated by winds. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and residents were warned to stay 2 km away from the crater.
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.