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Report on Aira (Japan) — 3 May-9 May 2023


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 May-9 May 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Aira (Japan) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 May-9 May 2023. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (3 May-9 May 2023)



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

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

JMA reported that Minamidake Crater and Showa Crater (Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) remained active during 1-8 May. Crater incandescence was observed nightly at Minamidake Crater. Three explosions at Minamidake during 2-3 May produced small shock waves and ash plumes. The explosion at 0422 on 2 May generated an ash plume that rose 1.8 km above the crater rim and drifted SW, and ejected blocks 500-700 m from the vent. The explosion at 0241 on 3 May produced an ash plume that rose 800 m and ejected blocks to 500-700 m from the vent. Later that morning, at 1025, an explosion produced an ash plume that rose 500 m and drifted W. An ash plume from an eruptive event at 2337 on 7 May rose 1 km. At Showa Crater very small eruptive events were recorded during 1-5 May, and three eruptive events on 8 May produced ash plumes that rose as high as 1.2 km above the crater rim and drifted S and SW. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and residents were warned to stay 2 km away from both craters.

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)