Continuous steam emission from Nishinoshima volcano with lava flows reaching coastline, Japan


Nishinoshima volcano in Japan has been showing continuous steam emissions rising from the island from January 15 to 21, 2020, the Japan Coast Guard reported. Lava flows were also seen entering the sea, while the heat radiation from the volcano has also been strong.

The Japan Coast Guard reported continuous emissions rising from the central crater. According to the Global Volcanism Program (GVP), "surveyors observed continuous gray emissions rising from the central crater of the pyroclastic cone to 1.8 km (5 905 ft) a.s.l. and drifting east and northeast."

Furthermore, lava flows traveled northeast and reached the ocean, producing steam plumes near the coastlines. 

In addition, satellite-based measurements that the heat radiation from the volcano– which was caused by lava on the surface– has been strong.

On January 26, the Operational Land Imager (OLI) on Landsat 8 captured a photo of an ash and steam plume from the volcanic island, located around 1 000 (621 miles) south of Tokyo.

In the image, infrared data is superimposed on a natural-color image to emphasize the active flows of the volcano.


Image credit: USGS/Landsat-8. Acquired January 26, 2020.

A new eruption has been taking place at the volcano since December 2019. The explosion appears to be mainly effusive, as satellite imagery shows lava flowing from the summit vent, traveling towards the northeast reaching the shore.

Image credit: USGS/Landsat-8, Antonio Vecoli. Acquired January 26, 2020

Geological summary

The small island of Nishinoshima was enlarged when several new islands coalesced during an eruption in 1973-74. Another eruption that began offshore in 2013 completely covered the previously exposed surface and enlarged the island again. Water discoloration has been observed on several occasions since.

The island is the summit of a massive submarine volcano that has prominent satellitic peaks to the S, W, and NE. The summit of the southern cone rises to within 214 m (702 feet) of the sea surface 9 km (5.6 miles) SSE. (GVP)

Featured image credit: USGS/Landsat-8, Antonio Vecoli. Acquired January 26, 2020


Commenting rules and guidelines

We value the thoughts and opinions of our readers and welcome healthy discussions on our website. In order to maintain a respectful and positive community, we ask that all commenters follow these rules:

  • Treat others with kindness and respect.
  • Stay on topic and contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way.
  • Do not use abusive or hateful language.
  • Do not spam or promote unrelated products or services.
  • Do not post any personal information or content that is illegal, obscene, or otherwise inappropriate.

We reserve the right to remove any comments that violate these rules. By commenting on our website, you agree to abide by these guidelines. Thank you for helping to create a positive and welcoming environment for all.

One Comment

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *