• Kyodo

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Workers have found the largest two examples in Japan of standing trees buried by lava and volcanic mudflow, Shimane Prefectural Government officials said Wednesday.

The trees were buried when volcano Mount Sambe erupted some 3,500 years ago.

The officials said the two cedars, up to 1.78 meters in diameter and 13 meters tall, were among seven standing trees newly found in a forest buried by the volcanic eruption. The trees are estimated to have been 700 years old when they were covered by the volcanic debris.

This brings to 37 the number of standing trees in the Sambe Azukihara forest that were smothered in the volcanic eruption, according to the officials.

They were found while workers were digging in the buried forest area to build a facility for the trees’ conservation. The tops of the trees surfaced when the workers had dug 6 to 9 meters down, they said.

The prefectural government is sinking a shaft 30 meters in diameter and 12 meters deep to allow viewing of the trees, the officials said.

Part of the Sambe Azukihara buried forest was found in 1983 during construction work. Large amounts of trees felled by the eruption were also found in 2000.

The exhibition shaft is scheduled to be completed and opened to the public sometime after April 2003.

The seven trees exposed by the excavation will be shown to the public on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays this year between April 20 and mid-May, the officials said.

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