Trails have been evacuated and flights were cancelled as Japan’s Mount Aso sent plumes of smoke and ash a mile high into the air. Officials have stated that there was no warning that the eruption would occur and the event came as big surprise to everyone on Monday morning.
Japan’s Mount Aso: Volatile terrain
Mount Aso, set in a caldera on the island of Kyushu, is Japan’s largest and most active volcano standing at 5,222 feet high. It has been sporadically erupting since late 2014, after two decades of remaining dormant. However, Aso is not Japan’s only active volcano, as the island is situated on what is known as a “ring of fire” due to its location on the edges of the fault lines in the Pacific Ocean. Last year, Mount Ontake’s eruption, considered the worst volcanic incident since 1902, claimed 63 lives.
Wait, A nuclear plant neighbors a volcano?
The incident has stirred up questions about how eruptions could affect the newly reopened Sendai plant, located 100 miles away and run by Kyushu Electric. Sendai is no stranger to natural disasters and was closed for a long period of time due to an earthquake turned tsunami that caused contamination of the surrounding area. Residents nearby were forced to relocate due to the resulting radiation. The plant reopened in August with new safety systems that have been held to extremely high standards. Kyushu Electric, as such, is confident that there is nothing to be concerned about.
During the eruption on Monday, the police worked to safely evacuate the people from the mountain. Although there were hikers at the parking lot of Aso’s peak, no injuries were documented. People are now warned to not go near Mount Aso because it is still considered to be active and may erupt at any time. Surrounding areas, even those located 30 miles away, have ash falling into their towns. Meterologists, however, have reported that rain is forecasted, which could help clear everything up, thereby preventing the ash from traveling.