With Rising Japan’s Volcanic Activity, The Japanese Government Raised the Volcano Alert at Mount Hakone
With rising Japan’s volcanic activity, The Japanese Government has raised the volcano alert at Mount Hakone, which is south-west of Tokyo, restricting access to the area for tourists after an apparent small eruption. Mount Hakone experienced a minor explosion that could be a precursor of more eruptive activity.
Hakone is a resort famous for its hot springs and stunning views of Mount Fuji. The Hakone town office said on its website “In 2014, around 21 million people visited Hakone, which includes 217,000 people from overseas.”
Some details about the rising Japan’s volcanic activity:
The minor explosion was probably a steam-driven explosion caused by heating up of the water to the boiling point in the upper parts of Hakone’s hydrothermal system. The explosion was accompanied by landslide, but it is not clear whether landslide was followed or preceded by the explosion.
Volcanic ash was coming out from a valley on Mount Hakone, which has been gushing out abnormal amounts of steam in the past months. Due to these abnormal activities, officials were forced to close a part of the resort at the start of the tourist season and raised the Volcano Alert at Mount Hakone.
What Japan Meteorological Agency said about rising Japan’s volcanic activity?
“We have confirmed volcanic ash was emitted from the area, which is known for hot springs and which has been emitting unusual amounts of steam in recent months,” said the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The Agency also said “There appears to have been a very small-scale volcanic eruption,” raising the alert level from 2 to 3 on a scale of 5.
Volcanologist- Toshitsugu Fujii, an emeritus professor of Tokyo University, said that predicting the scale of any volcanic eruption is not easy because the Mount Hakone last erupted around 200 years ago.
He added, “If hot water or magma becomes involved, it could explode at a deeper level, and there would probably be very little warning. Things are now taking place at a shallow level and probably it won’t go that far. But you can’t say when that might change.”
To protect the Mount Fuji climbers from the rising Japan’s volcanic activity, the Japanese Government has raised the volcano alert at Mount Hakone. Helmets, dust masks and goggles are now being distributed by city governments to the climbers at the Mount Hakone stations and lodges as precautionary steps. Supplies are limited, so climbers are being advised to bring their own safety equipment. Since, alert level has been raised from 2 to 3, maps showing evacuation routes will also be distributed among climbers.