Strong explosions at Sakurajima volcano, Japan


Strong explosions continue at Sakurajima's Minamidake crater, Japan, with the latest at 11:10 UTC on November 28, 2019.

Ash plumes rose up to 4.5 km (15 000 feet) above sea level, or 3.3 km (10 800 feet) above the crater. The Alert Level remains at 3 (on a 5-level scale).

YouTube video

YouTube video

There were 17 explosions and four non-explosive eruptive events detected by the seismic network from November 18 – 25, down from 27 explosions and 29 non-explosive events detected from November 11 to 18.

Ash plumes rose as high as 2.7 km (8 800 feet) above the crater rim and blocks were ejected as far as 1.7 km (1 mile) away. The sulfur dioxide emission rate was 2 800 tons per day on November 21. 

YouTube video

The activity at the volcano has been increasing since the end of October 2019.

A strong eruption took place at 08:24 UTC (17:24 LT) on November 8. Ash plume rose up to 6.7 km (22 000 feet) above sea level, making it the strongest eruption at the volcano since July 2016.

Sakurajima erupting on November 8, 2019. Credit: ESA/Sentinel-2, Anamaria Luongo

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 (10.5 x 14.3 miles) 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 4 850 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 (5 miles) from the summit. The largest historical eruption took place during 1471-76. (GVP)

Featured image credit: VolcanoYT

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