Erupting Kyushu volcano’s outbursts get more serious

KAGOSHIMA (Kyodo) A 1,421-meter-high volcano on the border between Kagoshima and Miyazaki prefectures erupted Tuesday for the fourth time since Jan. 26, spewing ash to a height of about 2,000 meters.

Mount Shinmoe in the Kirishima range erupted at around 7:54 a.m., prompting the Meteorological Agency to extend the danger zone for rocks hurled from the crater to a radius of 4 km from 2 km.

The agency, however, kept its 3-km danger zone for pyroclastic flows.

An impact crater about 6 meters in diameter and 2.5 meters deep was found some 3 km southeast of the volcanic crater, as well as another one of similar size in the city of Kirishima at the foot of the volcano — both apparently caused by boulders sent aloft during the eruption, local officials said.

No pyroclastic flows have been observed issuing from Mount Shinmoe, but the latest eruption may have blasted off some of the growing lava dome in its crater, the Kagoshima Local Meteorological Observatory said after observing that the dome had shrunk from the previous day.

The eruption caused windows to break at homes and schools. One person was slightly injured. Kirishima officials said 10 people from six households had evacuated on a temporary basis.

The local weather station said it observed 458 pascals of air vibration from Tuesday’s eruption with an infrasonic meter located some 3 km to the southwest of the volcanic crater, while the Miyazaki observatory said it confirmed air vibration that could be felt by people.

Air vibration of more than 100 pascals can shatter windows, weather officials say.