Researchers from eight universities said Saturday they plan to set off artificial earthquakes around Mount Fuji on Thursday to determine underground structures and help predict future eruptions.

Similar artificial quake experiments have been conducted on another volcano every year since 1994, but these will be the first of their kind on Japan’s highest mountain, they said.

The 3,776-meter mountain straddles Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures. It last erupted in 1707, and another eruption would cause major damage.

Some 60 researchers from institutes, including the University of Tokyo and Kyoto University, will take part in the tests.

They will detonate 500-kg charges 80 meters beneath the surface at five points along a line connecting the city of Shizuoka and the town of Tsukui in Kanagawa Prefecture. The blasts are to go off at five-minute intervals starting at 1 p.m. Thursday to cause earthquakes.

The scientists will observe seismic waves with some 400 instruments along the line, including on the summit of Mount Fuji.

They plan to analyze subterranean structures by looking at differences in the speed of wave propagation.

Waves propagate more quickly at points of congealed magma ejected from the Earth’s surface during volcanic activities.

The analysis will provide greater accuracy in detecting the focus of volcanic earthquakes and locations of congealed magma as well as enable them to predict the movement of magma, according to the researchers.

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