Spotlight on two Japanese volcanoes
Two of Japan's most active volcanoes get the spotlight shone of them - with some spectacular images as proof.
I write the Eruptions blog on Big Think. I've been mesmerized with volcanoes (and geology) all my life. It helps that part of my family comes from the shadow of Nevado del Ruiz in Colombia, where I could see first hand the deadly effects of volcanic eruptions. Since then, I've taken a bit of a winding path to become a volcanologist. I started as a history major at Williams College, almost went into radio, but ended up migrating to geology, including an undergraduate thesis on Vinalhaven Island, Maine. I followed this up by changing coast to get my Ph.D. from Oregon State University. Then I ran a MC-ICP-MS lab at University of Washington for a spell (and wrote for an indie rock website). I spent three years as a postdoctoral scholar at University of California - Davis studying the inner workings of magmatic systems. I am now an assistant professor at Denison University and have projects in New Zealand, Chile and Oregon.
I am fascinated by volcanoes, their eruptions and how those eruptions interact with the people who live around the volcanoes. I started this blog after getting frustrated with the news reports of volcanic eruptions. Most of them get the information wrong and/or are just sensationalistic. I will try to summarize eruptions as they occur, translate some of the volcanic processes that are happening and comment on the reports themselves.
And no matter what people tell you, I definitely do not have a cat named Tephra. (OK, I do).
You can find out more about my research by visiting my website. If you have any comments, questions or information, feel free to contact me at eruptionsblog at gmail dot com.
Sakurajima in Japan, erupting in December 2009. Image courtesy of Photovolcanica.com
Richard Roscoe at Photovolcanica.com has just posted two great sites focusing on two of the most active volcanoes in Japan: Sakurajima and Suwanosejima. These volcanoes are almost constantly erupting with small strombolian events punctuated by occasional plinian eruptions.
Sakurajima is on the island of Kyushu (well, technically Kagoshima, but right off the coast of Kyushu) less than 10 miles / 20 km from the city of Kagoshima. The volcano has been erupting since 1955 with both explosive and effusive products - some quite large, up to VEI 3. In January 1914, Sakurajima had a VEI 4 eruption after almost 100 years of quiet. The area near the volcano, including Kagoshima, was buried in ~1.5 km3 ash and tephra, with thousands of buildings destroyed from the weight of the tephra fall. If you feel like seeing what's up at Sakuajima, you can watch its volcano-cam.
A map of the most active volcanoes of Japan.
Suwanosejima is further south in the Ryukyu Island along the Japanese arc on Suwanose Island. It, too, is a very active volcano, with the current eruptive cycle starting in 2004, but prior to that, it erupted almost every year since the early 1990's. It tends to favor strombolian explosions that are smaller (VEI 1 and 2) than Sakurajima. However, a a series of large eruption in 1813-14 caused people to abandon the island. That eruption produced pyroclastic flows and lava flows that ranked as a VEI 4 eruption. It had a second VEI 4 in 1889, but since then the eruptions have been smaller.
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