Report on Aira (Japan) — 17 May-23 May 2023
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
17 May-23 May 2023
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2023. Report on Aira (Japan). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 17 May-23 May 2023. 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 ongoing activity at both Minamidake Crater and Showa Crater (Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 15-22 May. Crater incandescence was observed nightly at Minamidake Crater. At 1429 on 17 May an eruptive event at Showa Crater produced an ash plume that rose 1.2 km above the crater rim and drifted N. An explosion from Minamidake Crater at 2027 generated an ash plume that rose 400 m and ejected large blocks 600-900 m from the crater; another eruptive event at 2051 produced an ash plume that rose as high as 1 km and drifted N. An explosion at Minamidake was recorded at 1519 on 18 May. Showa Crater sent an ash plume 1.5 km high at 1125 on 22 May. 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.