Alert level raised at Asama in Japan

UPDATE 2/1/09 5:02 PM Pacific: Indeed, Asama did erupt today. The eruption was relatively small, throwing ballistic clasts up to 1 kilometer from the vent and ash into the outskirts of Tokyo.

Redoubt in Alaska has dominated the volcano news as of late, but it is clearly not the only volcano on Earth that is showing signs of eruption right now. The Meteorological Agency in Japan has just raises the alert level at Mt. Asama and warn that the volcano could erupt in the next "two days". Asama is ~150 kilometers from Tokyo and is very active (see above), having last erupted in September 2008. The volcano has had heightened seismicity for the past few days that led to the increase in alert level. When Asama does erupt, the products tend to be explosive and are accompanied by dome growth (similar to other Japanese volcanoes like Unzen).

More like this

Mt. Asama near Tokyo did, in fact, erupt within the "two day" window predicted by the Meteorological Agency of Japan. The reports this morning put the ash column at ~2,000 meters (~6-7,000 feet), so relatively small, but big enough to dust parts of Tokyo (~145 km away) with ash. No evacuations are…
Photo: The north flank of Mount Redoubt in early February 2009. Credit: Chris Waythomas / Alaska Volcano Observatory/U.S. Geological Survey I've been following the waxing and waning of activity at Mt. Redoubt in Alaska for the past two months like many of you have. For a time there, the volcano had…
Here it is, my attempt to recap a year's worth of volcanic events. By no means is this supposed to capture every event, but rather the highlight/lowlights and what most captivated me during 2009. I'll be announcing the winner of the 2009 Pliny for Volcanic Event of the Year tomorrow. Waimangu…
Not much new to report today, so I'll just add some notes to the two volcanoes in the news right now: Mayon and Redoubt. Mt. Redoubt in Alaska, taken on September 23, 2009. Image courtesy of AVO/USGS, taken by Game McGimsey. Mayon: The volcano continues to show signs that a major eruption is in the…

Volcano erupts near Tokyo raining ash down on city
Reuters â Japan's Mount Asama erupts

⦠TOKYO â A volcano near Tokyo erupted Monday, shooting up billowing smoke and showering parts of the capital with a fine ash that sent some city residents to the car wash and left others puzzled over the white powder they initially mistook for snow.

Mount Asama erupted in the early hours of Monday, belching out a plume that rose about a mile (1.6 kilometers) high, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.

There were no reports of injuries or damage from the eruption of the volcano, 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Tokyo. It last erupted in August, 2008, causing no major damage.

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 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 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.

In Tsumagoi, a small town on the volcano with ski resorts and hot spring baths, residents went about their business as usual. Travelers planning vacations to the area had called to inquire, but no one canceled, said Masaru Yoshida, a spokesman for the local tourist association.

"The wind has blown the ash to the other side of the mountain," he said. "It's a clear day so you can see some smoke, but not as much as we've had in the past."

Mount Asama has been active for thousands of years.

Its last major eruption took place in September 2004, spewing enough ash to damage local crops. It frequently spews smaller amounts of ash from its crater.

With 108 active volcanos, Japan is among the most seismically busy countries in the world. The country lies in the "Ring of Fire" â a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the Pacific Ocean.

Later Monday, the agency also reported a minor eruption at another volcano â Sakurajima in southern Japan.

An alert level of three was in place Monday for a 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) radius, which bars entry into the area and urges nearby residents to take caution.

"We don't think there will be any stronger eruptions, but we don't see the activity stopping anytime soon, either," agency official Kazuya Kokubo said