Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Round Of Warnings For Mt Fuji

Apparently the news media wants to remind you of the dangers posed by Mt Fuji, who's magma chamber has been pressurized to unprecedented levels following 2011's major 9.0 earthquake in Japan. A 6.4, and 5.0 quake followed, centered under Mt Fuji, which has caused some concern for scientists and nearby cities. I reported on this over two years ago, and while not much has changed, it seems that this is back in the headlines again, so I thought I'd set the record straight, lest the news media sends you into a panic.


Mt Fuji seen from Japan.


Here are some basic facts.

Yes, Fuji is under an immense, even record amount, of pressure in its magma chamber. The pressure is currently greater than it was during the 1707 eruption which blasted a massive crater in the SE flank of the mountain. This means that any further disturbances, such as medium to large quakes in the region could fracture rock, and allow for magma and gas to rise, raising the risk of a highly explosive eruption.

This is by no means imminent, as it is impossible to predict quake activity or location. It simply means that Fuji is primed, and large quakes close to the mountain would increase this risk. Right now, no seismicity other than normal background rumblings are occurring. So there is no need at this time to panic.

Japan has been criticized for its lack of disaster planning regarding Fuji, however last year they did release a new evacuation plan in the event of an eruption, which would likely give some warning in the form of increased tremor (long period quakes, rock fracture tremors, etc) and increased gas emissions.

The important thing for scientists, and Japanese residents is to simply remain aware and vigilant of the threat. Japan is still recovering from the aftermath  of the 2011 quake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant which was damaged by the quake. A massive volcanic eruption from Fuji IS in the future for Japan, it is only a matter of time. That time however is impossible to know. Fuji is capable of depositing significant amounts of ash as far away as Tokyo, so an eruption would have severe consequences for an island already stressed by other disasters.

But again, this is nothing new, and we have known that Fuji is primed for several years now. As I can attest looking at my traffic charts on my own blog, any news about Fuji, one of the worlds most famous volcanoes, is always a click-generator. It doesn't mean you shouldn't pay attention, but don't lose too much sleep over it.

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