Japan’s 2011 Earthquake May Lead to Mount Fuji Volcanic Eruption
Japan’s 2011 Earthquake May Lead to Mount Fuji Volcanic Eruption, Study Says. In 2011, a 9.0-magnitude earthquake struck just off the coast of Honshu, Japan. The quake — the country’s strongest ever — and resulting tsunami claimed more than 15,000 lives and destroyed hundreds of thousands of homes and buildings. But according to a study published in Science, a new cataclysm from the devastating quake could be on the horizon: a major eruption of Japan’s Mount Fuji. Using seismic data collected in the wake of the earthquake, French and Japanese researchers pieced together a map of the geological underpinnings of Japan most “disturbed” by the 2011 quake. What they found was alarming: the geology of volcanic areas, particularly the one found underneath Mount Fuji, suffered the most damage from the earthquake, hinting at the possibility that the disturbances could spark the first major eruption of Mount Fuji since 1707. As The Guardian notes, prevailing logic might seem to suggest that the area closest to the earthquake’s epicenter would exhibit the most geological disturbance, but instead geologically volatile volcanic areas suffered the most from the massive tremor. “The volcanic regions are the ones where the fluids trapped in the rock – boiling water, gas, liquid magma, which cause an eruption when they rise to the surface – exert the greatest pressure. The seismic waves add to this pressure, causing even more disturbance,” Florent Brenguier, the lead author of the study told The Guardian. Even though Mount Fuji hasn’t erupted in more than 300 years, volcanic activity and history are pointing at a potential eruption. In fact, the strongest earthquake to hit Japan before the 2011 quake, an estimated 8.7-magnitude tremor, occurred back in 1707, just 49 days before Mount Fuji last erupted, Quartz reports. Just four days after the 2011 earthquake, a 6.2-magnitude quake centered near Mount Fuji likely further disrupted the geological underpinnings of the volcano. Then, in 2012, the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention discovered that the pressure in Mount Fuji was nearly 16 times the pressure found in the volcano before it last erupted in 1707, further indicating the stability of the volcano. Should such an eruption occur now, Quartz notes, the effects would likely be catastrophic. Tokyo, a city of more than 8 million people, is just roughly 80 miles away from Mount Fuji and would likely see volcanic ash that could weigh-down and cripple infrastructure. The more than 1 million people closest to the mountain could experience pyroclastic and lava flows capable of leveling any and all structures. Still, the study’s findings don’t mean that an eruption at Mount Fuji is definite.a
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