A snowcapped volcano northwest of Tokyo erupted early Monday, sending up a huge plume of smoke and gas and raining fine, powdery ash on parts of Japan’s capital.
There were no reports of injuries or damage from the eruption of, which is about 90 miles (145 kilometers) northwest of Tokyo.
The volcano erupted at 1:51 a.m. (0451 GMT, 11:51 p.m. EST) Monday, belching out a plume that rose about a mile (1.6 kilometers) high, according to Japan’s Meteorological Agency. The plume was still roiling over the volcano’s crater late Monday.
Chunks of rock from the explosion were found about 3,300 feet (1,000 meters) away from the volcano. Ash was detected over a wide area, including central Tokyo. In the town of Karuizawa, southeast of the volcano, the ash was thick enough to obscure road markings in some areas, town official Noboru Yanagishi said.
“Some people said they heard a strange noise in the morning when the eruption occurred,” he said.
The eruption was not big enough to disrupt daily life near the volcano, though many people awoke to find their cars covered in a fine layer of powder. National broadcaster NHK showed people in Tokyo lining up to get carwashes, or wiping the ash from their windows.
Smoke billows from a crater of Mt.Asama, central Japan early Monday, Feb. 2, 2009. The mountain spewed volcanic smoke earlier this morning. The country’s Meteorological Agency warned Sunday that the volcano was in danger in erupting after detecting an increase in seismic activity.(AP Photo/Kyodo News, Shigeyuki Inakuma)
With 108 Japan is among the most seismically busy countries in the world. The country lies in the “Ring of Fire” — a series of volcanoes and fault lines that outline the .,
Alaska’s Mount Redoubt continued to rumble and emit steam Sunday but showed no dramatic burst of energy from the previous day, geologists monitoring the volcano said.
Geologist Tina Neal at the Alaska Volcano Observatory said scientists still believe an eruption is highly likely.
“It could erupt later today or in two weeks – or not at all,” Neal said. “It looks like a volcano that wants to erupt and our general impression is that it’s more likely to erupt than not. But there’s still a possibility that this one could just go back to sleep. There’s a lot of uncertainty.”
As a precaution, Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage – 100 miles northeast of Redoubt – was moving some of its aircraft to McChord Air Force Base in Washington. Officials said the base was starting with five C-17 cargo planes and could relocate other aircraft if deemed necessary.
“We’re just trying to be proactive and protect our assets,” said 1st Lt. Erin Slaughter. “Our aircraft support other missions, such as delivering supplies to Iraq and Afghanistan, and this relocation will allow them to still do all those missions even if the volcano does erupt.”