News & updates
Thursday, Jun 13, 2013
After 10 days of almost no activity, the volcano has woken up violently with 3 powerful explosions last night (at 22:05 and 23:58 UTC, ash plumes to 10-13,000 ft) and this morning at 04:26. The eruption this morning appears to be one of the largest explosions for a long time, producing an ash plume rising to 16-20,000 ft (5-6 km) altitude. An SO2 plume is also visible on satellite data. [more]
Monday, Jun 10, 2013
A shallow (10 km) magnitude 4.4 earthquake occurred about 16 km to the NW of the volcano today. [more]
Friday, Jun 07, 2013
During the past 5 days, no explosions have been recorded by Tokyo VAAC. It seems that the volcano is currently taking a rest and at very low levels of activity, with no or only very small explosions occurring. [more]
Thursday, Jun 06, 2013
The latest report from the Japan Meteorological Agency (which is always published with one-month delay) indicates that a small phreatic eruption occurred on 11 April this year. ... [more]
Wednesday, Jun 05, 2013
New activity seems to have started from Satsuma-Iwo-jima (Kikai) volcano. A steam / gas and possibly ash-containing plume has been observed on satellite images and a thermal anomaly was visible on recent MODIS satellite data. On yesterday morning's NASA Aqua satellite image, the plume from the volcano was about 70 km long to the SW. A thermal anomaly was visible already on images from 23 May. ... [more]
Volcanoes of Japan (118 volcanoes)
Hokkaido (20 volcanoes): Oshima-Oshima | E-san | Komaga-take | Nigorigawa | Kuttara | Usu | Shikotsu | Shiribetsu | Yotei | Niseko | Shikaribetsu | Akan | Tokachi | Nipesotsu-Maruyama | Mashu | Kutcharo | Daisetsu | Rausu | Shiretoko-Iwo-zan | Rishiri
Honshu (47 volcanoes): Mutsu-Hiuchi-dake | Hakkoda | Iwaki | Towada | Osore-yama | Akita-Yake-yama | Hachimantai | Megata | Kanpu | Iwate | Akita-Komaga-take | Chokai | Kurikoma | Onikobe | Narugo | Hijiori | Zao | Azuma | Adatara | Bandai | Numazawa | Nasu | Hiuchi | Niigata-Yake-yama | Takahara | Myoko | Nikko-Shirane | Omanago | Nantai | Shiga | Kusatsu-Shirane | Tate-yama | Akagi | Haruna | Washiba-Kumonotaira | Asama | Yake-dake | Oki-Dogo | Haku-san | Norikura | Kita Yatsuga-take | On-take | Mt Fuji | Hakone | Sanbe | Izu-Tobu | Abu
Kyushu (9 volcanoes): Tsurumi | Kuju | Aso | Unzen | Fukue-jima | Kirishima | Sumiyoshi-ike | Sakurajima | Ibusuku
Izu Islands (17 volcanoes): Oshima | To-shima | Nii-jima | Kozu-shima | Miyake-shima | Mikura-jima | Kurose Hole | Hachijo-jima | Aoga-shima | Myojin Knoll | Bayonnaise Rocks | Smith Rock | Tori-shima | Sofugan | Suiyo | Mokuyo | Doyo
Ryukyu Islands (10 volcanoes): Kikai | Kuchinoerabu-jima | Kuchino-shima | Kogaja-jima | Nakano-shima | Suwanose-jima | Akuseki-jima | Yokoate-jima | Iwo-Tori-shima | Iriomote-jima
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).