Monday, February 02, 2009

While Alaska's Mount Redoubt Remains Quiet, Three More Volcanoes Go Off: Mt. Sakurajima And Mt. Asama In Japan, Mt. Karymsky In Russia

Update March 22nd: Mount Redoubt erupts to 50,000 feet, ashfall expected in Susitna Valley with slight chance in Anchorage. Details HERE.

As of this post, Alaska's Mount Redoubt remains relatively quiet. According to the latest Anchorage Daily News story, two holes -- one more than the length of a football field across -- have formed in Drift Glacier below the summit. Each of the holes, known as fumaroles, is blowing steam and volcanic gas 2,000 feet into the air. And a vast sunken area known as a "collapse feature" also has appeared in recent hours. And a thin mudflow is streaming down the 10,197-foot mountain. But no eruption. Critical links to monitor:

-- Alaska Volcano Observatory Redoubt Page
-- Latest NOAA Ash Trajectory Forecasts (if it erupts)
-- Mt Redoubt Webcam #1 (Hut)
-- Mt Redoubt Webcam #2 (CI)
-- Webicorder Graph Output

However, three more volcanoes in the Pacific Basin popped their corks this past weekend, spreading ash as far as the Phillipines and Vietnam.

Bloomberg reports that according to information posted by the Japan Meteorological Agency on its website, seven minor eruptions occurred at Mount Sakurajima on Japan’s southern island of Kyushu, throwing rocks up to 2 kilometers (link to Sakurajima webcam HERE). In addition, eruptions at Mount Asama in central Japan and Karymsky Volcano on the Russian peninsula of Kamchatka were also reported. There were no reports of damage or injuries. However, Yahoo News reported ashfall from the Asama eruption on some sections of Tokyo. Here is an ITN report of the Asama eruption captured by YouTube:

I woke up after midnight to the sound and shake of the eruption,” Daisuke Tanaka, 24, a convenience-store attendant, who lives about 20 kilometers away from Asama, said by telephone today. “The sound was as if an airplane was taking off nearby and it continued for 30 minutes.”

Chunks of rock from the explosion were found about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) away from the volcano. Ash was detected over a wide area, including central Tokyo, the USAF's Yokota Air Base, and as far as eastern Chiba. In Tokyo's western district of Fussa, the local government office was flooded with calls from residents asking about "the mysterious white powder" falling from the sky and fire departments fielded calls from people afraid the ash was from a nearby blaze.

In the town of Karuizawa, southeast of the volcano, the ash was thick enough to obscure road markings in some areas, town official Noboru Yanagishi said. "Some people said they heard a strange noise in the morning when the eruption occurred," he said.

The Asama eruption was not big enough to disrupt daily life near the volcano, though many people awoke to find their cars covered in a fine layer of powder. National broadcaster NHK showed people in Tokyo lining up to get their cars washed or wiping the ash from their windows, with some drivers saying they first thought it was snow.

In Tachikawa, a district in northwestern Tokyo, some farming areas were coated with ash. "Because it's February and not harvesting season, there was no real damage to any crops," said Shoichi Matsumoto, a local official.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the Japan Meteorological Agency had issued an advance warning of Mt. Asama's imminent eruption within 48 hours on February 1st. The warning not only verified, but the eruption actually took place earlier than expected. This is why the Alaska Volcano Observatory continues to believe an eruption of Mt. Redoubt is imminent; it could happen here with little advance notice.

Japan has 108 active volcanoes representing about 10 percent of the world’s total. Forty-three people died in 1991 after Mount Unzen erupted on the southern island of Kyushu, while 15,000 people were evacuated after Mount Usu erupted on the northern island of Hokkaido in 2000. The 2,568 meter Asama, which last had a minor eruption in August 2008, is one of the most active volcanoes in Japan. A major eruption in 1783 killed more than 1,000 people.

I've seen no Russian media reports on the eruption of Mt. Karymsky yet. More information about its history HERE.

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