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Evacuation of part of Kagoshima

August 16, 2015

Residents evacuate as major eruption possible for Mt. Sakurajima

 

http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20150816p2g00m0dm001000c.html

 

KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) -- Residents near the Sakurajima volcano in Kagoshima evacuated to safer places Saturday after the government raised its alert level to 4 on a 5-point scale, indicating a major eruption could be imminent.

Level 4 is the highest ever for Sakurajima, located just 4 kilometers away from the center of the major southern port city of Kagoshima, since the current volcanic alert system was launched in 2007.

Kyushu Electric Power Co.'s Sendai nuclear power plant, which Tuesday became the first to be rebooted under tighter safety rules adopted in the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster, is located just 50 km from the volcano. No abnormality has been reported at the plant.

The alert was raised to 4, meaning people living in the area should prepare to evacuate, from 3, which restricts entry to the mountain area. In response, the Kagoshima city government issued an evacuation advisory for areas near the mountain, affecting 77 residents, all of whom left the areas by evening.

Many earthquakes originating from the volcano have been recorded since 7 a.m. Saturday and an increase in crustal movement was also observed, the Japan Meteorological Agency said, adding those are signs indicating magma has risen to near the volcanic vent.

The agency warned of the possibility of an eruption emitting large amounts of ash and pyroclastic flows within 3 km from Sakurajima's Showa vent and the Minamidake summit.

"It would be no surprise if it were to erupt at any moment," an agency official said.

The meteorological agency believes an eruption of similar magnitude to one in 1986 may occur. Six people were injured by the 1986 eruption which emitted large amounts of volcanic ash that fell on residential areas up to 3 km away.

But the agency has not observed signs indicating a surge of magma equivalent to an eruption in 1914, in which 58 people died or went missing. Sakurajima was an island until the 1914 eruption, which emitted so much material as to join the volcano to Kyushu.

There have been some 690 eruptions from the Showa vent of the 1,117-meter volcano since the start of this year, with the plume reaching an altitude of some 4,300 meters on May 21.

The volcano last had a major eruption in August 2013, spewing volcanic ash 5,000 meters into the sky.

Evacuees moved to evacuation centers set up by the city government or other places including relatives' homes.

Residents carrying luggage were seen arrived at the centers after the evacuation advisory was issued.

"I'm concerned if an eruption may damage my home," said Yoshiko Ikeda, 87.

"I have lived in Sakurajima for more than 50 years but have not imagined we would have to evacuate," Emiko Miyashita, 80, said.

The city government displayed the alert in Japanese and English on digital boards at the ferry landing as foreigners in the area may not have received the information.

Kyushu Electric Power Co.’s Sendai nuclear power plant is located just 50 km from the volcano. On Tuesday, it became the first nuclear plant to reboot under tighter safety rules adopted in the wake of the 2011 disaster at Tepco’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

No abnormality has been reported at the Sendai plant.

The alert was raised to 4, meaning people living in the area should prepare to evacuate, from 3, which restricts entry to the mountain area. In response, the Kagoshima city government issued an evacuation advisory for areas near the mountain, affecting 77 residents, all of whom left the areas by evening.

Many earthquakes originating from the volcano have been recorded since 7 a.m. Saturday and an increase in crustal movement was also observed, the Meteorological Agency said. It added that those are signs indicating magma has risen to near the volcanic vent.

The agency warned of the possibility of an eruption emitting large amounts of ash and pyroclastic flows within 3 km from Sakurajima’s Showa vent and the Minamidake summit.

“It would be no surprise if it were to erupt at any moment,” an agency official said.

According to the agency, there is a large magma chamber at a level 10 to 15 km below the sea surface northeast of Sakurajima, and magma in the chamber is thought to be pushing into a small magma chamber 4 to 6 km directly below in the mountain.

The agency says that increased pressure in the small chamber likely led to an upward pressure of magma under Sakurajima, raising the frequency of volcanic earthquakes and causing swelling in the mountain.

The agency believes an eruption of a similar magnitude to one in 1986 may occur. Six people were injured by the 1986 eruption that emitted large amounts of volcanic ash, which fell on residential areas up to 3 km away.

But the agency has not observed signs indicating a surge of magma equivalent to an eruption in 1914, in which 58 people died or went missing. Sakurajima was an island until the 1914 eruption, which emitted so much material as to join the volcano to Kyushu.

There have been some 690 eruptions from the Showa vent of the 1,117-meter volcano since the start of this year, with the plume reaching an altitude of some 4,300 meters on May 21.

The volcano’s last major eruption occurred in August 2013, spewing volcanic ash 5,000 meters into the sky.

 

August 16, 2015

Concerns grow over possible eruption of Sakurajima as residents evacuate

 

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN

Local officials kept a close watch for a second straight day on volcanic Mount Sakurajima as signs continued to grow on Aug. 16 of a possible major eruption impacting residential areas.

A day earlier, the Japan Meteorological Agency raised the warning for the 1,117-meter-high Sakurajima to Level 4, meaning residents within 3 kilometers of vents on the mountain should be prepared to evacuate.

The Kagoshima municipal government issued an evacuation advisory at 4:50 p.m. on Aug. 15.

All 77 residents in 51 households living in the Arimuracho, Furusatocho and Kurokamicho districts of Kagoshima city had evacuated by 6 p.m. Aug. 15.

According to agency officials, a total of 1,028 volcanic tremors were recorded on Aug. 15, centered in the vicinity directly under the Minamidake vent. As many as 100 tremors an hour were recorded on the morning of Aug. 15.

However, the number of tremors recorded between midnight Aug. 15 and 10 a.m. on Aug. 16 was 49. The hourly number of tremors recorded had also fallen to under 10.

There were no tremors that could be felt since 3 p.m. on Aug. 15.

The decrease in the number of tremors may mean crustal movement caused by pressure from rising underground magma may have weakened. However, other observations continue to show the mountain expanding, leading agency officials to estimate that a large volume of magma continues to accumulate close to the vents.

When the agency raised its warning to Level 4 on Aug. 15, it was the first time that had been done for Sakurajima since the volcano warning system was introduced in 2007. Sakurajima erupted in July 2012 and August 2013, spewing large amounts of smoke and volcanic ash.

 

 

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