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How hot is hot?

Date: August 9, 2018 | By: bigfive | Category: Travel Blog

The temperature of lava ranges from 1,292 degrees to 2,282 degrees Fahrenheit.

That’s pretty warm… Consider, water boils at 212 Fahrenheit, and a pizza oven is generally 500 to 600 degrees F.

Sounds dramatic, right? Well, it is, especially in the infamous Ring of Fire, a major area in the Pacific Ocean. In a 25,000-mile horseshoe, it is associated with a nearly continuous series of oceanic trenches, volcanic arcs, and volcanic belts and plate movements. It encompasses 452 volcanoes, more than 75% of the world’s volcanos, both active and dormant. Some 90% of the world’s earthquakes and 81% of its largest earthquakes occur along the Ring of Fire.

Japan lies in that zone of instability and is home to some 10% of the world’s active volcanoes (kazan in Japanese). No place is this more visible and immediate than on Japan’s Sakurajima Island. In fact, one list ranked the top ten most active volcanoes globally and Sakurajima Volcano landed the number one spot.

You will not have to wait long to see this busy volcano in action. Thousands of small explosions occur annually, routinely throwing ash several thousand feet above the mountain.

The volcano began forming more than 13,000 years ago, with the first recorded eruption in 963 CE. The most powerful eruption in 20th-century Japan came on January 11, 1914. A large earthquake followed two days later, which killed 35 people and generated a large lava flow, rare in Japan due to the high silica content of the magmas. Lava engulfed several nearby islands and created a narrow land bridge between the island and the mainland. The lava flows continued for months.

In 1955, Sakurajima’s activity again became pronounced and the volcano has been erupting nearly continuously since. The Sakurajima Volcano Observatory was set up in 1960 to monitor the volcano.

Could an explosion like the 1914 event happen again? Experts from Bristol University and Sakurajima Volcano Research Centre suggested a major eruption could come within 30 years.

Sakurajima is designated a Decade Volcano, one of 16 volcanoes identified worldwide by the International Association of Volcanology and Chemistry of the Earth’s Interior (IAVCEI) as worthy of special study due to a history of destructive eruptions and proximity to populated areas. This is part of the United Nations’ International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Despite this incessant activity, you can enjoy this island. It is part of the Kirishima-Yaku National Park and its lava flows are a major attraction. The area around Sakurajima contains several hot spring resorts. While you cannot approach the crater, the island has beautiful hiking trails.

To explore this unique ecosystem and more, discover the newest President’s Pick Colorful Japan.

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