‘Ring Of Fire’ Ac­tiv­ity Picks Up

The Oakdale Leader - - NEIGHBORHOOD VALUES -

The string of ac­tive vol­ca­noes around the Pa­cific Ocean has lived up to its “Ring of Fire” name lately, spark­ing mass evac­u­a­tions in In­done­sia and Van­u­atu and un­set­tling part of south­west­ern Ja­pan. The 450 or so vol­ca­noes that make up the ring out­line where the mas­sive Pa­cific Plate grinds against other plates that form the Earth’s crust, cre­at­ing a 40,000-kilo­me­ter (25,000-mile) -long zone prone to earth­quakes and other seis­mic up­heaval.


The Shin­moedake vol­cano in south­west­ern Ja­pan started erupt­ing Wed­nes­day for the first time in about six years. An ash plume rose 1,700 me­ters (5,580 feet) from the crater Thurs­day and ash fell on cities and towns in Miyazaki pre­fec­ture. Ja­panese broad­caster TBS showed stu­dents wear­ing hel­mets and masks on their way to school at the foot of Shin­moedake. The Ja­pan Me­te­o­ro­log­i­cal Agency is warn­ing that hot ash and gas clouds known as py­ro­clas­tic flows could reach 2 kilo­me­ters (1 mile) from the crater, and ash and vol­canic rocks are a risk over a wider area de­pend­ing on wind and el­e­va­tion. It raised the vol­canic alert level from 2 to 3 on a scale of 5. Level 3 warns peo­ple to not ap­proach the vol­cano.


More than 140,000 peo­ple fled Mount Agung on the In­done­sian re­sort is­land of Bali af­ter its alert sta­tus was raised to the high­est level on Sept. 22. Hun­dreds of tremors daily from the moun­tain in­di­cate magma is ris­ing in­side it, prompt­ing au­thor­i­ties to warn a pow­er­ful erup­tion is pos­si­ble. The vol­cano spewed lava and deadly fast-mov­ing clouds of boil­ing hot ash, gas and rocks when it last erupted in 1963, killing more than 1,100 peo­ple. A new erup­tion is likely to kill fewer peo­ple be­cause of­fi­cials have im­posed a large no-go zone around the crater but it could par­a­lyze tourism, which many Ba­li­nese rely on for their liveli­hoods. In­done­sia has more than one tenth of the world’s ac­tive vol­ca­noes and an­other two are cur­rently erupt­ing. Sinabung in north­ern Su­ma­tra is shoot­ing plumes of ash high into the at­mos­phere nearly daily, and Dukono in the Maluku is­land chain is also pe­ri­od­i­cally erupt­ing.


The en­tire pop­u­la­tion of a Pa­cific is­land was evac­u­ated in the space of a few days in late Septem­ber and early October to es­cape the belch­ing Ma­naro vol­cano. The 11,000 res­i­dents of Am­bae is­land were moved by ev­ery boat avail­able to other is­lands in Van­u­atu, a Pa­cific ar­chi­pel­ago na­tion, where they’re liv­ing in schools, churches and tents. Of­fi­cials have since down­graded the vol­cano’s dan­ger level but say the pop­u­la­tion must wait at least two more weeks to re­turn. The is­land’s water sup­ply and crops have been af­fected by vol­canic ash and acid rain but most vil­lages were spared ma­jor dam­age. Pre­vi­ous erup­tions of the vol­cano have lasted a month to six weeks.

The Shin­moedake vol­cano in south­west Ja­pan dur­ing a 2011 erup­tion,

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