A volcano in Japan – one of the country’s most active – has erupted with a spectacular display, shooting ash a mile into the night sky and sending thick lava down its slopes.
Sakurajima, situated in southern Japan and about 30 miles from a nuclear plant, violently erupted and spewed fountains of lava in the previous week.
Despite what Japan’s Meteorological Agency called an “explosive eruption,” there has not been any report so far of damage and disrupted operations at the nearby power station, as well as any immediate report of injuries elsewhere.
The agency said that Sakurajima erupted at around 7 p.m. local time, with public station NHK broadcasting the lightning and dark gray smoke emerging from the volcano into the dark sky.
Authorities have banned entry to the area, with the current no-go zone expanded to a 1.2-mile radius around the volcanic crater.
Volcanologist Kazuhiro Ishihara of Kyoto University predicted no serious impact from the explosion.
“But of course we must keep monitoring the volcanic activity,” he told NHK.
Sakurajima’s most recent major eruption was back in September. While dramatic – with red lava streams bursting from the mountain sides – this eruption is average compared to previous ones, added Ishihara.
The Sendai nuclear power station, situated on the same island, resumed its operations in 2015 after a shutdown period following the 2011 Japan earthquake and tsunami that triggered the Fukushima nuclear plant meltdown.
A spokesperson for Kyushu Electric Power, which runs the power station, said the eruption made no impact to their plant operations and that they are not implementing any special measure.
Japan sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” and has over 100 active volcanoes on the archipelago. This section of the ocean is renowned for its string of volcanic belts and arcs, oceanic trenches, and plate movements.
In September last year, Mount Aso in the island of Kyushu suddenly erupted and blasted black-and-white smoke over 6,500 feet in the sky. It has also had a number of minor eruptions the same year and in 2014, temporarily disrupting local tourism.
The 2014 eruption of central Japan’s Mount Ontake, on the other hand, killed 57 individuals.
Photo: Tanaka Juuyoh | Flickr