Japan’s Mount Aso Eruption Looks Straight Out of a Horror Movie

by Kati Kuuseoks
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Mount Aso takes the title as the largest active volcano in the whole of Japan. Not only that, it simultaneously makes the list for one of the biggest volcanoes in the world. Its peak sits over 5000 feet above sea level and it holds immense powers of destruction. The Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program reports at least 38 separate eruptions in this area since the ’50s.

Before this week, though, the last eruption that caused a great deal of damage took place at the end of 2014. Dubbed Japan’s worst volcanic disaster, 63 people lost their lives at Mount Ontake.

During periods of no eruptive activity, this area is usually frequented by hikers and even hosted a cable car at one point. But when hikers saw billows of smoke this week, they knew they needed to act quickly. They left Mount Aso as scenes straight out of a horror movie filled the skies, marking a new eruption.

History of Eruptions in the Area

Reporters shared this footage from the treacherous scene at the base of Japan’s erupting Mount Aso:

Billowing clouds of smoke and ash fill the air, giving the scene absolutely apocalyptic energy. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), though “Mount” precedes Aso, this isn’t technically a mountain range. Geologically speaking, Mount Aso finds itself part of something called the caldera and post-caldera cones. This is essentially a fancier way of saying an area filled with circular depressions larger than average craters.

Actually, the JMA reports that most of the area was actually formed by eruptions as far back as 90,000 to 270,000 years ago. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno relays no reports of injuries, despite four hikers on the mountain who discovered the eruption on their hike. They allegedly made it to safety and officials are trying to make sure no one else is left on Mount Aso.

Mount Aso’s Latest Eruption Puts Locals in a Level 3 Alert

Upon observing signs of the impending eruption, the JMA issued a level 3 volcanic activity alert in the area. The most severe alert is a 5 on the scale. A “3” stands for a “minor eruption” with a “4” as a “moderate” one. The most severe alert, or a “5,” stands for a “very large eruption.” This current alert focuses on the areas of Aso, Takamori, and Minami-Aso. The volcano continues to blow out ash at least half a mile from the crater and upwards of 11,500 feet in the air.

Officials urge hikers and citizens to stay out of the area due to the dangers of lava and falling rocks. Officials are monitoring the situation to see if they need to escalate their alert. For now, they state that citizens should be safe by maintaining their distance.

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