The unexpected eruption of Mount Ontake on September 27 claimed the lives of 56 hikers, leaving family members to try to understand why their loved ones had been taken so suddenly. But out of this tragedy comes a heartwarming gesture, giving the family of one victim the chance to get back a small piece of their father who never made it down the mountain that day.
Feeling a little too chipper today? Here’s something to bring you back to down to earth: According to Kobe University professor Yoshiyuki Tatsumi and his research staff, there is a one-percent chance that a huge, Japanese-civilization-obliterating volcanic eruption will occur sometime within the next 100 years.
One percent may not sound like very much, but when you hear the kind of eruption the professor’s research refers to, you’ll understand why even that tiny number is much bigger than we’d like.
More details have emerged about the final moments of those who died during the sudden and tragic eruption of Mount Ontake in central Japan last month.
This week, pathologists confirmed that of the 56 people who died when the volcano erupted on September 27, 20 were killed instantly when they were struck in the head or neck by falling rocks and debris. One doctor involved in the case told the Mainichi Shinbun, however, that around half of the victims they saw had been taking photos of the eruption when they died.
A few weeks after the sudden and tragic eruption of Mt. Ontake, search-and-rescue teams have gradually become simply “search teams” and many families still await increasingly certain bad news.
Beyond loved ones, disasters like this often have a reverberating effect which reaches far out to places we don’t often see. One such place is Kiso, a highland town located roughly 10km away from Mt. Ontake which suffered no adverse effect to business or life during the eruption.
As a town which relies on tourism, the people of Kiso would like to tell you that their town is perfectly safe and just as beautiful as ever. But with so many still mourning the loss of life at Mt. Ontake, every time the people of Kiso try to make it plain that they’re open for business, people call them “despicable” and “heartless.”
Near the top of Japan’s Mount Ontake, whose recent eruption is thought to have claimed 36 lives, rescue teams have been facing setbacks due to the dangerous terrain including flying rocks and poisonous fumes. Around the same time, the Japanese Geographical Survey Institute (GSI) has posted nearly 200 photos of the initial eruption online from 360 degrees around it.
By overlaying the photos on a precise topographical map they hope the data can be valuable to teams by helping them understand the behavior of the plume and conditions all over the area. These photos are available for anyone to see by going to the GSI website, but perhaps its some of the videos posted from the scene online that give a better sense of the disaster.
Being a journalist is a pretty thankless job. Especially those who report on war and conflict or disasters, these intrepid reporters risk their lives to bring us the stories. In the case of this past weekend’s volcanic eruption on Mt. Ontake, journalists scrambled to the scene to report on the situation. Or, most of them. Some took the path of least effort and leapt at the chance to do some “reporting” from the comfort of their own home, through social media.
Late last year we watched as a new island was born and started growing off the Pacific coast of Japan. Boy did it grow fast, as a little later that year it assimilated (to form the face of loveable hound, Snoopy, no less) with another nearby island, Nishinoshima.
This kind of event doesn’t happen every day, but unfortunately the Japanese Coast Guard is advising all ships to stay well clear thus torturing the curious souls who want to catch a glimpse of it. Then by a sheer stroke of luck, someone from the Ogasawara Tourist Board was able to capture a brief but interesting look at these eruptions in action and generously posted it on YouTube for all to see. It’s seriously impressive.
A volcanic eruption is terrifying on its own, but we just learned that, even more terrifyingly, the avalanche of hot rocks, ash, and gas that volcanoes spew can spawn giant tornado-like twisters.
This was caught on video after a pyroclastic flow from Mount Sinabung, a volcano in Indonesia that’s recently started spewing again after more than 400 years of dormancy.
See those bright and chipper faces above? Those are residents of Tarumizu City in Kagoshima Prefecture. They’re understandably bummed since mother nature recently used their city as an ashtray as a record high plume erupted from the local Sakurajima volcano. Even the rolled eyes of Sakurajima’s own Yuru-kyara mascot, Sakurajimon, belie his insincere smile.
However, there are some who couldn’t be happier for this monumental eruption. These people are the makers of canned volcanic ash from Sakurajima sold as Hai! Douzo!! for only 100 yen (US$1) a can!
Since the Great Tohoku Earthquake of March 2011, scientists have been anxiously watching the massive volcano known as Mt. Fuji for signs of activity. In September of last year, a report was released stating that Mt. Fuji’s magma chamber pressure had risen to a worrisome 1.6 megapascals, which is estimated to be higher than when it last erupted.
According to retired professor Masaki Kimura of Ryukyu University, this and other recent phenomena indicate an eruption of Mt. Fuji should have taken place in 2011 with a four-year margin of error ending in 2015.
Sakurajima is a well-known volcano in the South of Japan for its continuous activity that often blankets nearby towns in ash. However, on the particular day that this photo was taken, something with even more star power popped out the mountain as if it were a polka dot egg.
Yes, what appears to be Nintendo’s hungry hungry dino, Yoshi, was photographed over the volcano one day. At least most people in Japan see Yoshi… maybe we’re too accustomed to giant lizards towering over our cities.