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Report on Aira (Japan) — 14 February-20 February 2024


Smithsonian Institution / US Geological Survey
Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 February-20 February 2024
Managing Editor: Sally Sennert.

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2024. Report on Aira (Japan) (Sennert, S, ed.). Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 14 February-20 February 2024. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (14 February-20 February 2024)



31.5772°N, 130.6589°E; summit elev. 1117 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

JMA reported ongoing eruptive activity at Minamidake Crater (Aira Caldera’s Sakurajima volcano) during 12-19 February with nighttime crater incandescence. Sulfur dioxide emissions averaged 1,400 tons per day on 20 December. An explosion at 0659 on 14 February generated an ash plume that rose 2 km above the crater rim and drifted N, and ejected blocks 300-500 m away from the vent. A larger explosion at 1833 on 14 February produced an ash plume that rose as high as 5 km above the summit that drifted E and NE and ejected large blocks as far as 1.3 km from the vent. Ash plumes had not risen that high since an explosion at 0538 on 9 August 2020. A large amount of ashfall completely covered roadways in some parts of the N part of the island based on 15 February field observations. Residents reported ashfall in Kagoshima, Aira, Kirishima, Kanoya, Soo, and parts of Miyazaki Prefecture. Eruptive events at 2220 on 16 February, and 1523, 1556, 1631, and 2359 on 17 February, generated ash plumes that rose 1-1.3 km above the summit and drifted E and SE. The Alert Level remained at 3 (on a 5-level scale), and the public was 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 caldera, along with several post-caldera cones. The construction of Sakurajima began about 13,000 years ago on the southern rim and built an island that was joined to the Osumi Peninsula during the major explosive and effusive eruption of 1914. Activity at the Kitadake summit cone ended about 4,850 years ago, after which eruptions took place at Minamidake. Frequent eruptions since the 8th century have deposited ash on the city of Kagoshima, located across Kagoshima Bay only 8 km from the summit. The largest recorded eruption took place during 1471-76.

Source: Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA)