Saturday, May 05, 2007

The story of Mount Usu's eruption last March

The 732m-high Mt. Usu in Hokkaido erupted at 1:10 pm on March 31st followed by three eruptions on April 1st. The black-gray volcanic smoke reached higher than 3000m into the sky, as the volcano expelled volcanic ash and rocks. There are numbers of craters on the west side of Mt. Usu.

More than 17,000 people live in the surrounding area. Date, Abuta and Sobetsu towns were evacuated. Authorities are currently allowing some residents to return to their homes for up to 7 hours in the day time. However, more eruptions are predicted and there are also warnings for mudflows from the volcanic ash mixed with melted snow and rain. Many residents from the areas close to the eruption region will remain evacuated. The volcanic cinders damaged homes in Abuta-town. The good news is that no injuries are currently reported.

Train services are canceled between Oshamanbe and Higashi muroran stations in JR Muroran-line. It is recommended that travelers avoid or bypass the area. Train services between Hakodate and Sapporo stations are also changed. If you are planning to go to Sapporo by train, be sure to ask an JR officer about the train schedules.

Mt. Usu has erupted nine times since 1626, and this eruption was the first time since 1977. Mt Usu is located about 30 miles southwest of
Sapporo-city and 12 miles northwest of Nuroran-city. It is one of the 36 active volcanos in Japan. The most known volcano in Japan is Mt. Fuji. Other well-known active volcanoes are Mt. Asama and Oshima in Honshu and Mt. Aso and Sakura-Jima in Kyushu. For more information about volcanoes in Japan, refer to Tectonics and Volcanoes of Japan.

Mt. Usu is a part of Shikotsu-Toya National Park which consists of spectacular crater lakes, hot springs, and mountains formed by volcano eruptions.
Toya-lake, Shikotsu-lake, Mt. Showa-shinzan, which was created in the early 20th century during an eruption by Mt. Usu. (The name means "new mountain of Showa-period") , and Nobori-betsu onsen are popular among tourists. For information about Hokkaido, please refer to my Hokkaido links.

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