In a surprise eruption that shook parts of southern Japan, Sakurajima ended an unusually long quiet phase in style. The stratovolcano, known for being one of the most active in the world, spewed a plethora of ash, magma and ball lightning into the sky, providing what could be one of the most notable displays of pyrotechnics seen from the volcano.
Sakurajima is a set of multiple volcanoes in the Kagoshima prefecture of Kyushu, Japan. It is an active decade volcano, and has been erupting regularly since 1955.
Because of its unusually active nature, as well as the rather destructive nature of its eruptions—one of its eruptions connected the island volcano to Osumi Peninsula back in 1914—Sakurajima is the subject of plenty of volcanology studies.
To this end, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) has many cameras recording the activity of Sakurajima, and monitors the volcano on a regular basis.
This eruption was not exactly unplanned for. The JMA and the city of Kagoshima regularly tracks any activity on the stratovolcano, and can predict to a relatively decent margin if there is any danger of an eruption from Japan’s Sakurajima.
As such, the eruption last February 5, 2016 was not exactly unexpected. The government had been preparing the city for an eruption since early 2015, and in fact considers Sakurajima’s eruption to be delayed. Kagoshima had been expecting the volcano to erupt in September of 2015.
This eruption, though flashy, is actually quite an average explosion from the volcano. There have been records of stronger explosions from Sakurajima, which has recorded major eruptions on average every three years within the past decade.
Residents Not Worried
Despite the active nature of the volcano, the residents of Kagoshima aren’t so worried. Sakurajima experiences plenty of minimal eruptions regularly. The city regularly conducts a yearly disaster drill in case of a major explosion, and there are safeguards in place to help reduce any casualties.
There have been none so far. Just to be safe, however, the JMA has increased the exclusion zone to around two kilometers from the area. The agency has also raised the alert status of the volcano to level 3.
Many experts believe that this explosion is the resumption of the volcano’s regular activity. Sakurajima has been quiet since late last year.
This eruption, however, has become one of the flashier displays in the history of Japan. Sakurajima’s eruption video can be viewed here, for those of you who want to see the volcano’s eruption as recorded by JMA’s many cameras.
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