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1888 Eruption of Mount Bandai

1888 Eruption of Mount Bandai

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The 1888 eruption of Mount Bandai was a major volcanic eruption
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 which occurred during the Meiji period
Meiji period
The , also known as the Meiji era, is a Japanese era which extended from September 1868 through July 1912. This period represents the first half of the Empire of Japan.- Meiji Restoration and the emperor :...

 of the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

. The eruption occurred on 1888-07-15, and pyroclastic flow
Pyroclastic flow
A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of superheated gas and rock , which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h . The flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity...

s buried villages on the northern foot of the mountain, and devastated the eastern part of Bandai region, Fukushima Prefecture
Fukushima Prefecture
is a prefecture of Japan located in the Tōhoku region on the island of Honshu. The capital is the city of Fukushima.-History:Until the Meiji Restoration, the area of Fukushima prefecture was known as Mutsu Province....

 north of Tokyo
, ; officially , is one of the 47 prefectures of Japan. Tokyo is the capital of Japan, the center of the Greater Tokyo Area, and the largest metropolitan area of Japan. It is the seat of the Japanese government and the Imperial Palace, and the home of the Japanese Imperial Family...

. At least 477 people were killed and hundreds more were injured and rendered homeless in what became the worst volcanic disaster in recent Japanese history. The eruption had many similarities to the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens
The 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, a stratovolcano located in Washington state, in the United States, was a major volcanic eruption. The eruption was the only significant one to occur in the contiguous 48 U.S. states since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California...

 in the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...



Mount Bandai
Mount Bandai
, also known as , , and , is a stratovolcano in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan.In a major eruption on July 15, 1888 the north and east parts of the caldera collapsed in a massive landslide, forming two lakes, Hibara-ko and Onogawa-ko, as well as several minor lakes called Goshiki-numa, or the 'Five...

 is a stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

, which had previously erupted in the year 806, only to be dormant for the next 1000 years. Mount Bandai had a conical profile, and had been compared in literature with Mount Fuji
Mount Fuji
is the highest mountain in Japan at . An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji's exceptionally symmetrical cone is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and...

. The Bandai volcano consisted of four peaks: O-bandai (1,819 meters), Kushigamine (1,636 meters), Akahaniyama (1,427 meters), and Ko-bandai which was slightly lower than that of O-bandai.

Small earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s were reported on July 8, 9, and 10. Moderate earthquakes occurred on July 13 and 14. However, as earthquakes are commonplace all over Japan, these tremors were not viewed by the local populace with undue concern.


On July 15, three earthquakes occurred prior to the main eruption. The third one was the largest, at around magnitude
Richter magnitude scale
The expression Richter magnitude scale refers to a number of ways to assign a single number to quantify the energy contained in an earthquake....

 5. At 07:45, while the ground was still heaving, a Phreatic eruption
Phreatic eruption
A phreatic eruption, also called a phreatic explosion or ultravulcanian eruption, occurs when rising magma makes contact with ground or surface water. The extreme temperature of the magma causes near-instantaneous evaporation to steam, resulting in an explosion of steam, water, ash, rock, and...

 began at the fumarole
A fumarole is an opening in a planet's crust, often in the neighborhood of volcanoes, which emits steam and gases such as carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrochloric acid, and hydrogen sulfide. The steam is created when superheated water turns to steam as its pressure drops when it emerges from...

s approximately 100 meters upslope from the Kaminoyu hot spring resort on the flank of Ko-Bandai. Successive explosions occurred 15 to 20 times per minute. Each explosion was accompanied by thunder and a black eruption column ascending to a height of 1300 meters. The last explosion was observed to discharge a horizontal cloud, mainly toward the north.

Within 10 minutes after the explosions, a pyroclastic flow swept over the eastern part of the volcano. According to eyewitness, phreatic eruptions continued after the large collapse at least twice. At around 10:00, hot rain started falling, transforming the vast quantity of volcanic ash
Volcanic ash
Volcanic ash consists of small tephra, which are bits of pulverized rock and glass created by volcanic eruptions, less than in diameter. There are three mechanisms of volcanic ash formation: gas release under decompression causing magmatic eruptions; thermal contraction from chilling on contact...

 into lahar
A lahar is a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of a slurry of pyroclastic material, rocky debris, and water. The material flows down from a volcano, typically along a river valley. The term is a shortened version of "berlahar" which originated in the Javanese language of...

 (volcanic mudslides). At 16:00, ash fall ceased.


The eruption had transformed hundreds of square kilometers of forest and farmland around the mountain into a wasteland. Several villages were completely buried under landslides, which also considerably altered the topography
Topography is the study of Earth's surface shape and features or those ofplanets, moons, and asteroids...

 of the region by diverting rivers and creating a number of new lakes. Approximately 1.5 cubic kilometers of the summit of the mountain had collapsed, and flowed northwards.

Japanese geologists
Geology is the science comprising the study of solid Earth, the rocks of which it is composed, and the processes by which it evolves. Geology gives insight into the history of the Earth, as it provides the primary evidence for plate tectonics, the evolutionary history of life, and past climates...

 Seikei Sekiya and Y. Kikuchi from the Imperial University of Tokyo visited Bandai within days of the eruption. After spending several months studying the new crater and the devastated areas, they published a report in English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 (“The eruption of Bandai-san” Tokyo Imperial University College of Sciences Journal 3 (1890), pp 91–171), which is considered a classic in volcanology
Volcanology is the study of volcanoes, lava, magma, and related geological, geophysical and geochemical phenomena. The term volcanology is derived from the Latin word vulcan. Vulcan was the ancient Roman god of fire....

. A photograph of the ruined mountain was the first news photograph
Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism...

 printed by the Yomiuri Shimbun
Yomiuri Shimbun
The is a Japanese newspaper published in Tokyo, Osaka, Fukuoka, and other major Japanese cities. It is one of the five national newspapers in Japan; the other four are the Asahi Shimbun, the Mainichi Shimbun, Nihon Keizai Shimbun, and the Sankei Shimbun...

 in Japan.

The eruption was the first major disaster faced by the fledging Japanese Red Cross
Japanese Red Cross
The ' is the Japanese affiliate of the International Red Cross.The Imperial Family of Japan traditionally has supported the society, with Empress as Honorary President and other royal family members as vice-presidents. Its headquarters is located in Tokyo and local chapters are set up in all 47...

, which moved in quickly to provide disaster relief.

The lake district formed by this cataclysm is now known as Urabandai or Bandai-kōgen, and has become a popular tourist destination, especially the multi-hued lakes of Goshiki-numa
, is a cluster of five volcanic lakes situated at the foot of Mount Bandai in the center of the lake district of Bandai-kōgen, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan....


External links

37.612787°N 140.076194°W (caldera)