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Thursday, Sep 03, 2015
The alert level was downgraded back to 3 (out of 5) last Tuesday as signs of unrest and the risk of a sudden major explosion have decreased. ... [more]
Steaming and glow from Aso's Nakadake main vent
Monday, Aug 24, 2015
Activity has been low during the past days, with only intense steaming and dilute ash emissions from the Nakadake crater. Incandescence continues to be visible from the main vent, suggesting magma remains close to the surface. [more]
The likelihood of a feared larger eruption seems to be decreasing as the volcano has slowly been resuming small explosive activity and shots of the crater show the presence of fresh lava. ... [more]
The blocked Showa crater of Sakurajima (image: Asahi Shimbun)
Friday, Aug 21, 2015
According to Japanese scientists, the scenario of a major eruption at the volcano is becoming more and more likely. The Asahi Shimbun news agency sent a drone to photograph the crater, confirming that a flat dome is currently blocking the conduit. ... [more]
Sakurajima's lava dome inside Showa crater
A pancake-shaped flat dome of lava has been detected inside the Showa summit crater. This type of dome is typical for moderately viscous and gas-poor lava (typically andesitic composition) extruded at subduction-zone stratovolcanoes. ... [more]
Map of volcanoes in Japan (USGS)
Map of volcanoes in Japan (USGS)
 

Volcanoes of Japan (118 volcanoes)

Japan has over 100 active volcanoes, more than almost any other country and accounts alone for about 10 % of all active volcanoes in the world. The volcanoes belong to the Pacific Ring of Fire, caused by subduction zones of the Pacific plate beneath continental and other oceanic plates along its margins.
Japan's volcanic arcs and tectonic setting
Japan is located at the junction of 4 tectonic plates - the Pacific, Philippine, Eurasian and North American plates, and its volcanoes are mainly located on 5 subduction-zone related volcanic arcs where the Pacific Plate descends under the North American Plate along the Kuril Trench and the Japan Trench and underneath the Philippine Sea Plate along the Izu-Bonin Trench. The Philippine Plate itself subducts beneath the Eurasian Plate at the western end, forming the Ryukyu Trench. The principal resulting volcanic ars are:
- Ryukyu Arc and Southwest Honshu Arcs in the south (Philippine plate subducting beneath between the Eurasian Plate),
- Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc (subduction of Pacific plate beneath Philippine plate)
- Northeast Honshu and Kurile Arc in the north (subduction of Pacific plate beneath the N-American plate)
(more info: www.glgarcs.net/intro/subduction.html)

Besides intense volcanic activity, Japan is one of the places in the world most affected by frequent, and sometimes devastatingly large earthquakes. Its oceanic setting makes it vulnerable for tsunamis as well, as the tragedy of the 11 March 2011 8.9 earthquake and tsunami terrifyingly illustrated.

Record in historically documented eruptions
Japan's first documented historical eruption was from Aso volcano in 553 AD , the year after Buddhism was introduced from Korea. It holds a record in the number of historically documented eruptions.
Japan's largest historical eruption (Towada, 915 AD), 17 Japanese volcanoes had been documented in eruption, more than the rest of the world combined (including 10 in Europe).

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