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Danger Zone

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

On March 7, the Japanese volcano Mount Shinmoedake erupted. Smoke and ash filled the sky. For a few days, the volcano spewed spew NICOLEVANF/GETTY IMAGES to spit something out in a forceful way (verb) The garden hose spewed water all over the yard. ash. Then, on March 10, the eruptions again turned explosive. Buildings vibrated as lava cascaded cascade ROINE MAGNUSSON/GETTY IMAGES to fall or pour down in large amounts (verb) Water cascaded over the cliff. 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.