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Wednesday, 14th September 2016
In General Japan News,

Magma build-up points to Sakurajima volcano eruption within 30 years

An incredibly active volcano in Japan will erupt within the next 30 years, according to scientists who have been studying it. The Sakurajima volcano has a significant magma build-up, making it a growing threat, researchers have announced.

The experts from Bristol University who made the claim or not the only ones monitoring the volcano on Kyushu Island, as Japanese authorities are also keeping a close eye on it. The mountain is currently ranked at Level 3 in the volcanic warning system, meaning approaching the volcano is ill-advised.

Mount Sakurajima is located just 30 miles from the Sendai nuclear plant and in relatively close proximity to Kagoshima. The city is home to 600,000 residents, the majority of whom will not remember the last major eruption, which took place in 1914.

Despite this, the volcano sends out regular reminders of the potential devastation it could unleash. Ash is often seen emanating from its cone and small eruptions happen throughout the year, with the most recent occurring in February.

Dr James Hickey, lead author in the study, said: "The 1914 eruption measured about 1.5 kilometres cubed in volume. From our data we think it would take around 130 years for the volcano to store the same amount of magma for another eruption of a similar size- meaning we are around 25 years away."

The report, which was published yesterday (September 13th), was a collaborative effort between Bristol University and the Sakurajima Volcano Research Centre. It suggests that 14 million cubic metres of magma is accumulating inside the volcano every year.

This is enough to fill Wembley stadium three-and-a-half times over and far exceeds the amount expelled through the smaller eruptions. Innovative research was conducted into the magma reservoir through new modelling techniques. All of this evidence works together to present a cohesive argument for the volcano to explode in a dramatic fashion within the next three decades.

Dr Hickey talked about why such work is so important. He said: "We know that being forewarned means we are forearmed and providing essential information for local authorities can potentially help save lives if an eruption was imminent."

New evacuation plans have been outlined as a direct result of the findings and will be put in place to ensure everything is done to mitigate any disaster. Dr Haruhisa Nakamichi, associate professor at the Disaster Prevention Research Institute at Kyoto University, corroborates this.

He said: "It is already passed by 100 years since the 1914 eruption, less than 30 years is left until a next expected big eruption. Kagoshima city office has prepared a new evacuation plan from Sakurajima."

Japan is located on the Pacific Ring of Fire, meaning it has some 100 active volcanoes within its vicinity. Such a constant imminent threat means it has become well-accustomed to putting evacuation plans and early warning systems in place to protect residents and visitors.