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Sparks fly in Sakura-jima eruption 11 February 2010

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Sakura-jima eruption, 8 February 2010 (Kago-net)

Here’s some serious volcanic lightning. As reported in this week’s SI/USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, Sakura-jima volcano in southern Japan – always highly-active – erupted spectacularly on 8 February, producing lava fountaining up to 1 km in height, showering its flanks with incandescent material, and throwing up a very dense ash plume positively pulsating with lightning. There’s a great video at Kago-net showing all this activity, and I can’t resist showcasing some captures from that video here.

(There has been some interesting research on volcanic lightning recently, occasioned by Redoubt’s 2009 eruption. See Eruptions for background and links, and this article from National Geographic News.)

Sakura-jima eruption, 8 February 2010 (Kago-net)

Sakura-jima eruption, 8 February 2010 (Kago-net)

Sakura-jima eruption, 8 February 2010 (Kago-net)

Sakura-jima eruption, 8 February 2010 (Kago-net)

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A plume from Sakura-jima 30 October 2009

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Plume from Sakura-jima, 30 October 2009

Sakura-jima on the southern Japanese island of Kyushu is one of the most active volcanoes on earth: there is nearly always a current Volcanic Ash Advisory reporting explosions and emissions from its Minami-dake summit cone, which has been the focus of eruptive activity for about 5000 years.

Sakura-jima sits in Kagoshima Bay, the northern portion of which is formed by Aira Caldera, created in a very large eruption ~22,000 years ago. The volcano has developed on the southern edge of the caldera, and was an island until erupted material joined it to the Osumi Peninsula to the east during the major eruption of 1914. On the western rim, meanwhile, sits the city of Kagoshima, population 600,000.

In the image above, captured by NASA’s Terra satellite on 30 October 2009, Sakura-jima is releasing a grey ashy plume which crosses the Satsuma Peninsula to the west of the volcano and spreads out over the East China Sea. The plume crosses directly over the city of Kagoshima, where ashfall from Sakura-jima is a frequent occurence. The general haziness of the image is not the result of the eruption, but of air pollution blowing over from China.

Click here to see the original uncropped image (1 pixel = 250 m) at the NASA MODIS Rapid Response site. Many thanks to Robert Simmon of the NASA Earth Observatory for providing this image.

The Volcanism Blog

Eruption at Sakura-jima 10 March 2009

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Sakura-jima 10 March 2009 (6)

The highly active stratovolcano Sakura-jima in southern Japan has erupted, say English-language news reports this morning. There are reports of an explosion at 05:22 local time, lava flows, an eruption column of up to 1.2km altitude, and volcanic debris projected to distances of up to 2km from the crater.

The Tokyo VAAC has issued a volcanic ash advisory for the volcano, but no aviation colour code alert has yet been issued. The Japan Meteorological Agency has issued a warning to local residents. The BBC has a video of the current activity.

My thanks to a Japanese reader of this blog who has sent some stills from videos of today’s eruption. One of these images is at the top of the post; click on ‘more’ to see the full series of six below.

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Mount Asama erupts 2 February 2009

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Mount Asama, 2 February 2009.

Mount Asama in Japan fulfilled the JMA forecast by erupting on a relatively small scale today, producing a steam-and-ash plume to altitudes of around 2 km and throwing rocks as far as 1km from the vent. Light ashfall took place over parts of Tokyo and reached as far as Yokohama. The Tokyo VAAC had reports (based on estimates) of ash up to altitudes of 10000 to 15000 ft (3-4.5 km), dispersing to the south-east. The BBC has a video showing aerial views of the summit which must have been taken soon after the eruption.

Meanwhile Sakura-jima on Kyushu in the south of Japan has also erupted several times over the last few hours, producing ashfall mainly into the sea. Sakura-jima is highly active, with frequent explosions producing ash plumes, and residents of the nearby city of Kagoshima took the latest activity in their stride: ‘we did not note anything out of the ordinary affecting daily activity’, said a local official.

Webcam views of Asama can be found here and here (thanks to Boris Behncke and Stefan Keuttel for this information). The image at the top is Asama erupting, 02:00, 2 February 2009 (thanks to Stefan Keuttel; original here).

UPDATE: The Japan Meteorological Agency is pleased that this eruption of Mount Asama has proved to be a success for its new volcano alert system, introduced in December 2007, reports The Japan Times.

News
Japan volcano Mount Asama erupts, no major damage – Reuters, 2 February 2009
Volcano erupts near Tokyo raining ash down on city – Associated Press, 2 February 2009
Ash falls on Tokyo as volcanoes erupt – AFP, 2 February 2009
Volcano erupts close to Tokyo – BBC News, 2 February 2009
Volcano erupts in Japan – BBC News, 2 February 2009 (video)

Information
Global Volcanism Program: Asama – summary information for Asama (0803-11=)
Global Volcanism Program: Sakura-jima – summary information for Sakura-jima (0802-08=)
Japan Meteorological Agency – English-language homepage for the JMA
Volcano Research Center, University of Tokyo – English-language homepage for the VRC

The Volcanism Blog