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Blocked vent on volcano increases danger

August 21, 2015


Blocked vent on Kagoshima volcano increasing likelihood of massive eruption




KAGOSHIMA--A major eruption at Mount Sakurajima here appears more likely after scientists confirmed that volcanic discharge that now covers the mountain’s Showa vent has caused pressure to build up inside the mountain.

"The vent has almost been blocked up, and explosive power is increasing as a result of heightened pressure inside the vent,” said Masato Iguchi, the scientist who heads the Kyoto University’s Sakurajima Volcano Research Center. Iguchi joined the aerial survey undertaken by the Japan Meteorological Agency on Aug. 19 to study the situation.

The Asahi Shimbun conducted an aerial survey on the afternoon of Aug. 15. Reporters spotted eruptive products deposited at the vent. They also witnessed the discharge of volcanic gas.

Iguchi also confirmed on Aug. 19 that the volcanic discharge remained there.

Earlier that day, a minor eruption occurred at the Showa vent at 3:13 a.m. It was the first eruption since the agency raised the warning to Level 4 (prepare to evacuate) from Level 3 (restricted entry to the mountain) on Aug. 15.

Eruptions have occurred 672 times between January and June this year at Mount Sakurajima. The number, however, fell sharply to 14 in July. Experts believe that the debris consists of discharge spewed during the intensive eruptive activity between May and June.

Meanwhile, researchers at the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan observed that the land has expanded in both an east and west direction by up to 16 centimeters on the east side of the Minamidake vent from Aug. 10 onward. The movement is apparently the result of the rise of magma below the Showa vent, the researchers said.

The scientific team analyzed data taken from the Daichi-2 advanced land-observation satellite.


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