Danger Zone

March 23, 2018
FIRED UP Japan’s Mount Shinmoedake erupts on March 10. At press time, its lava continued to simmer.

On March 7, the Japanese volcano Mount Shinmoedake erupted. Smoke and ash filled the sky. For a few days, the volcano spewed ash. Then, on March 10, the eruptions again turned explosive. Buildings vibrated as lava cascaded down the mountainside.

There are no reports of injuries or damage from the eruptions. Officials have not ordered an evacuation. But the Japan Meteorological Agency is warning people to stay away from Mount Shinmoedake. Volcanic activity may continue for months. Major eruptions could send rocks flying as far as two and a half miles from the crater.

The city of Kirishima sits at the foot of the volcano. Some people there are carrying an umbrella for protection from falling ash. Others are wearing a surgical mask or covering their nose with a towel.

Mount Shinmoedake sits on the southernmost of Japan’s main islands. Japan is on the Ring of Fire. This “ring” runs around the Pacific Ocean, along the edges of the tectonic plates that make up the Earth’s crust. Sometimes, these plates shift. Liquefied rock, called magma, squeezes through. Gas bubbles form, forcing magma out of a volcano.

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