News & updates
Thursday, Dec 05, 2013
After about a week with fewer (and on some days no) recorded explosions, a new surge of stronger activity began yesterday. A vulcanian explosion this morning produced an ash plume rising to 11,000 ft (3.4 km) altitude. [more]
Tuesday, Dec 03, 2013
The new island continues to erupt and grow, increasing its chances of long-time survival by the day. The active vent on the islet continues to be in strombolian eruption and has by now built a new cone that is higher than the main island itself (which is 38 m). ... [more]
Saturday, Nov 30, 2013
Activity seems to increase and decrease in cycles of approximately a week's length. After the series of stronger explosions on 24-25 Nov, the past days have been calmer with fewer and less intense explosions (1-2 per day, ash plumes to 8,000 ft). [more]
Thursday, Nov 28, 2013
The youngest island of the world continues to grow as the eruption continues. Recent footage shows (from 24 Nov) shows strombolian activity and a lava flow on the southeast flank of the small new cone. ... [more]
Wednesday, Nov 27, 2013
Explosive activity has resumed at the remote volcano in the Tokara Island chain. VAAC Tokyo reported explosions yesterday and this morning, with ash plumes rising to 4,000-6,000 ft (1.2-1.8 km) altitude. [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).