Friday, January 28, 2011
My husband was reading the paper this morning, and suddenly shouted out to everybody, "Hey! Look! There was a volcanic eruption yesterday in Kyuushuu!" We've been to Kyuushuu a number of times, since his family is all from there. The kids, naturally, all rushed over to have a look at the photo in the newspaper. "Funka?! Honto?!" Yes, really!
Sei Iijima of the Japan Meteorological Agency said (according to this morning's paper) that a major eruption is not imminent. The photo shows a 2500m ash cloud, though, which has prompted some people to evacuate (voluntarily), some schools to delay opening, a couple of JR Lines closed, and a Level 3 alert warning. That means nobody is supposed to approach within a mile of the volcano. Shinmoedake is the volcano (there are several in the area) inside Mount Kirishima which is actually erupting. This morning's Nikkei says this is the biggest eruption at Kirishima since 1959. Watch that video closely--there are lightning strikes inside the ash cloud! (NOTE: the cause of the lightning is not well understood, though geologists have believed it to be caused by charge separation from volcanic dust particles colliding and building up static charges. A newer theory has to do with the water content of magma).
Here is a video montage from the JMA webcam:
...and if you can read Japanese, or can at least match up Kanji, here's a link to the webcam. Click on
霧島山 猪子石(新燃岳) (scroll down, it's near the bottom of the window on the top right side of the page--if you can watch it, look at all the ash spots all over the camera!).
This is the trade-off we make for living in a country filled with natural hot springs. All those hot springs are there because of all the volcanoes (which, of course, also means plenty of earthquakes--my kids have earthquake drills at school. Being from the Midwest, I thought that was weird--but my students and their parents all think it's bizarre to have tornado drills:-))
UPDATE: I saw in the paper this morning that 500 households have been evacuated (not voluntarily) because of the threat of destruction by magma.