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The Sciences

Sakurajima can't keep its top on, sets new record

Rocky Planet iconRocky PlanetBy Erik KlemettiJune 22, 2010 10:11 AM


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Sakurajima in Japan erupting in 2000.

Sometimes, it is the volcanoes that erupt out of the blue that get all the attention, leaving the ones that are constant producers to be ignored by the fawning media. Sakurajima in Japan is just one of those constant erupting volcanoes that doesn't get its just due. Well, over the weekend, Sakurajima broke its own record as it produced its 549th explosive event this year - in June no less - marking the most explosions (video) in a single year at the volcano on record. The previous record for most explosive eruptions in a single year at Sakurajima was 548 set all of last year (2009). The eruptions of Sakurajima so far in 2010 tend are believe to have released over 3 million tonnes of ash - however, the volcano observatory near Sakurajima doesn't think that this activity is leading to a large explosive eruption - instead they just warn "watch out for large rocky ash falling in surrounding areas." Good advice!

Sakurajima is one of the most active (unsurprisingly) volcanoes in Japan, just off shore from Kagoshima City, and is actually a series of overlapping cones making up an andesitic volcanic complex - all part of the Aira caldera. The current eruptive period at the volcano started in 1955 and have produced the equivalent of a VEI 3 eruption (albeit over half a century), but it has produced VEI 1-2 eruptions frequently over the few hundred years. In 1914 and 1779, Sakurajima did have larger explosive events - VEI 4 eruptions - so the potential for bigger eruptions is there. However, right now you can watch Sakurajima put on its explosive show via its webcam ... so enjoy the record year at the Japanese volcano.

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