An active volcano in Japan could erupt 25 years from now, according to a new study published on Sept. 13 in the journal Scientific Reports. Apparently, scientists found that Sakurajima volcano has an increasing magma reserve, which threatens the lives of thousands of residents in the nearby city of Kagoshima.
“What we have discovered is not just how the magma flows into the reservoir, but just how great the reservoir is becoming,” points out the study’s lead author James Hickey of the Camborne School of Mines at Exeter’s Penryn Campus. “We believe that this new approach could help improve eruption forecasting and hazard assessment at volcanoes not just in this area, but worldwide. We know that being forewarned means we are forearmed and providing essential information for local authorities can potentially help save lives if an eruption was imminent.”
Researchers from the University of Exeter, the University of Bristol and the Sakurajima Volcano Research Center in Japan cite that the volcano already erupted back in 1914, killing around 58 people and causing flooding of Kagoshima, which has been called the “Naples of the Eastern World.” It would take 130 years for the volcano to refill this same amount, which means that the same eruption in 1914 could occur 25 years from now.
The researchers investigated the Aira caldera, a massive crater that acts as the magma storage zone that feeds the nearby Sakurajima volcano. They also incorporated some data from GPS measurements as well as 3D computer models.
The results show that around 14 million cubic meters of magma get supplied to the volcano annually. The team describes the amount as three-and-a-half times the volume of Wembley Stadium.
They are currently continuing their study on Sakurajima volcano. The research team says that their study could enhance the way experts predict eruption and improve volcano assessments.