Saturday, January 21, 2006

Could lack of snow wake up Mt. Fuji in Japan?

A lack of winter snow on Japan's famed Mount Fuji has sparked speculation that the volcano could erupt for the first time in three centuries. But experts denied any link between snow and seismic activity. Much of Japan has had record snowfall in the last month, but recent photographs of the usually snowcapped Mount Fuji show its slopes looking bare. "A lot of snow fell on Mount Fuji, but it was blown off by strong winds," a city official in Fujiyoshida near Mount Fuji said. Some tabloids have taken the snowless peak as a sign that an eruption was imminent.

The nearly conical Fuji is classified as a dormant volcano since it last erupted in 1707, but the government was rattled in November 2000 when the number of small earthquakes shaking the peak jumped to more than 200 from a monthly average of around 20. Japan, which lies at the intersection of several tectonic plates, is regularly rattled by tremors of varying strength, with volcanic eruptions not infrequent.

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