ash & pressure waves
At the beginning of this
tour, I thought at least that two moderately active volcanoes will
expect us, and if we were lucky we’ll see volcanoes which blow only
ash into the sky. Probably, we see something glowing but only when
you come close to the crater rims. The reason was, we had no
informations and only a little pictorial material. Nevertheless it
was the first visit to Japan,
and if the volcanoes were not active, you have evenly more time to
discover this interesting country. So I had my expectations about
this journey, - however everything should come contrary.
Kagoshima city before the nearby volcano Sakurajima
Favourite free time activity, the
we got in trouble with the simplest communication. Except
one employee in the “Bank of Kagoshima” no English was
spoken in principle. Due to the pitiless confrontation with
characters, we had however one trump
in the sleeve, our own sign language.
the end of the
form of communication by using infantile sounds was
by us in such
that we archived 70% at least of what we ordered.
this was only possible, because the Japanese people had been were
very cooperative, friendly and helpful at each place to every situation
Thank's a lot.
The hope to see a momentarily active volcano was
destroyed by only one
man before we reached the peninsula Sakura Jima. We
postcards which showed high ash columns from the summer.
Also the lightning eruptions from past days were extremely
impressive. But the innkeeper made us clear that we have to
This confirmed my expectations that this volcano seemed to
be an “ash blower”, - frustration!
Aerial photo and
explanation of our observation points. Photo with friendly
permission of the SABO CENTER. Right our car-GPS friend.
Rapidly ascending ash column (estimated height of 2-3
km) which drifted southward over the
landscape (parking place)
But the photos upon already make clear that the
program was changed a little. At first we took the well known
western position, the so-called ‘parking place’, an official lookout
point for tourists. From here we observed strong ash discharges for
the first time, but they did not refer a glow ejection. With the
evening search for a good position on the eastern side of the
peninsula a weak red shining in the east crater was noticeable.
Later, glowing ejections up to 300 meters height confirmed the
activity, - joy!
with a dense ash cloud observed from the east
Positively attuned, characteristics such as pressure waves and flash
eruptions could be seen, and unexpected observations could be made
in the further days. At New Years Eve during the dawn a lightning
could be already photographed during an eruption. With an exposure
time of three seconds it was not completely
simple. Further eruptions
during the day
pressure waves, which
were rushing spherical nearly
over the whole mountain
with a dry sharp bang. Even
in a distance of 2500m the tent wall was
shaken-through by the pressure waves
Concerning to New Year's Eve,
here an ominous story of a China cracker of the Z-class 5.
Already during the day we noticed that the volcano had changed the
rhythm. Constantly eruptions of 400-600m height were to be observed
with since the first visit, then the volcano had become
inconspicuously calm. We hoped to get a special show to New Year's
Eve no arrive with a super bang in the year 2010. The whole evening
no reaction in the crater, not a tiny red at all, and this before
the change of year. The 3200er ASA exposure of Martin confirmed this
condition still in addition. Had the Sakura Jima stopped the
activity? - Well, no fireworks.
Cheers New Year!!
The Sushi plate (favourite food of Richard, he would
change the domicile therefore, photo above) from the supermarket was
excellent. The sparkling wine sickly-sweet. With guckly hands we sat
in our Toyota mini car, Sushi stuck at the seats and we gazed
through the windshield to the sleepy volcano. Nothing at all. We
stepped out, and stationed ourselves as used to the cameras. Now the
volcano appeared without ash- and damp clouds. Somehow suspiciously
calm, - quiet as a mouse.
Left: New Year eruption around 00:05:23 at 01.01.2010, two minutes
later the next fontain.
The half massif of the Sakura Jima was maltreated vehement
by the ejection bombs toward our side.
unexpected an enormous fontain
on a height of
700m, two minutes later the next large fontain. The volcanic
massif was scattered on the eastern side with plenty of
glowing ejection bombs. Only the extinct main crater lain
north was spared. Due to volcanic surprise, I nearly lost my
photo release out of my hand hand. We were astonished, how
punctually such a volcano can be. In that way, the
Fontain height over 1000 meters!
observed from the east point
Lively it continues with violent explosions the next
night, however the rhythm had actually changed again. In the average
up to four hours now the eruptions were to be seen. In the further
process breaks of 6-7 hours were no more rarity. The longest break
took actually 17 hours. The era of the monotonous waiting at the
volcano began. However the volcano could develop enough pressure in
these dwelling phases, the eruptions in their strength increased
therefore. Two eruptions at the 2.Januar showed this. The first and
highest is represented above in the photo, and measured over 1000
meters. Even using a light telephoto lens with 100mm the plentiful
selected screen window thitherto, the lava bombs nevertheless shot
over the upper
impressing, with which dynamics these oversize candles raised into
the sky. Strong ash rain was crackling after each eruptions on us,
and we changed increasingly the shape of dusty ash manikin and/or
the environment. I could observe this violence of the eruption only
at the Etna in the years 2000-2002 so far.
Also the next day brought news. Now the weather fits
finally. No grey mist in the background, - clear air, - no rain or
iced up objectives. After a six-hour break this eruption pointed
itself out from the most beautiful side. Due to dryness the
explosion in the crater did not show the the outgoing pressure wave
in the condensate like used, yet it was present and dashed with full
force to the left crater edge, so that small material was lifted out
clearly. (Video comes). In the further process remarkable sized ash
lances were shown.
The powerful ash cloud lowered itself down and passed
over to us in the northern direction with vertical numerous dense
ash bands. This had the consequence that we were exempted once from
the used ash rain. The days before ash rains forced us regularly in
the tent or in the car. Here also graphic works of art at various
the wind brought the ash directly in our direction. The
fall out was up to 5mm, was adhesive on cameras and
sleeping bags, ran in the smallest gaps but gave us a
lot of chances for arty drawing insertions. For the
mirror writing we'll practice of course patiently for
the next time.
Advice: Our drawings were designed by free
memory. Analogies with living persons are coincidental and
The scenario looks like a sandstorm. The ash was churned
due to strong winds over the country. Up to a distance of ten
kilometres the clouds were dragged over the landscape.
Far eruptions could
also from the
A powerful eruption to 5.1.2010 transformed the
volcanic massif into a heap of glow
Incl. Astronomy picture of the day (M.Rietze)
Toward the end a new condition of the eruption phases adjusted
itself. The breaks had become shorter again now, and a nearly
regularly flash lightning was added to the eruptions. Even with
smaller eruptions this phenomenon could be observed. In the night to
the 9.1.2010 lightings stroke behind the ash clouds toward to the
volcano. Here we couldn't saw clearly the flashes.
On the last evening, this photography could be originated however.
Because of the return of the borrowed car at
the Kagoshima airport, we had specified the dismounting time of the
We hoped now for a parting performance. Because in the afternoon a
strong eruption was to be observed, the hope to get a similar one
ebbed again. After a five-hour waiting period it was clear, that
we’ll probably see no more. Ominous, a further violent eruption
We ranked these
as one of
the most beautiful. A half dozen of lightings before and in the ash
cloud was ‘served’ to us. So, and what a nonsense I made straight in
this moment?!? After I was no longer sure whether the adjusted
horizon fits, I saw the first half second of the eruption through
the viewfinder moving up and down. In panic I lashed intuitively my
tripod, and released. With enormous luck the shoot succeeded without
Sakurajima is also famous for study Lahars (immense mud/lava/water
evalances). At the left the SABO
information center for Lahar technique. Very
interessting to visit, because here you get the imagination
how difficult it is to get this dangerous Lahars by huge
constructions and civil works under control. Middle and
right photos: Lahars constructions at the western side of
Sheltered phonebox and the cleaning
and collecting of volcano ash???
Phantasy rich formed garden trees and a unknown plant
The famous giant radish of Sakura Jima island. Some species
brought it up to 26 kilograms.
Suwanosejima, Tokara Island
Arrival on Suwanosejima
with the Toshima ferry
rises with a
of 799 meters over the island Suwanosejima
which is situated
about 250 kilometres south of
belongs to the Tokara complex
in the northern Ryukyu islands. Now you ask yourselves, where this island
could probably lie.
most south Japanese
This island is not
most people in
did not even
Thus we had the information that about 50-80 inhabitants
on the island, but over accommodation and supply we stood blank
So we planned to take the complete provision for
five days on the ferry.
on the island was very cordial, and the helpful
showed us immediately a small camping site, which was built
probably for the solar eclipse 2009.
The curiosity to the view
of this so unknown volcano still pushed us
the same afternoon toward
and through a for
forest path, which
completely closed up in the upper region with ash-covered
ferns. The ascent emerged as
arduous, and I placed myself the question whether I would
ever arrive there above. Martin drew the corridor (thanks!)
as the first, Richard and I rolled the remainder
You can guess, who
after crossing the forest path. Finally arrived,
the first view from the eastward open volcano caldera
loud jet noise.
here, pressure waves
observed and filmed
during the last daylight.
was to be recognized in the flat
crater from the
However the eruption
changed after approximately one hour, and
at the beginning
The continuous jet tone tore off,
the volcano began with
deep eruption noise and
The ash column climbed
up in an
250 meters distance
and piled up
vertically estimated two kilometres over us.
Not knowing the further developing I had to
a lightly fear.
vacated already my camera equipment
escape. If the Otaka would untwist still another more highly
then I thought in this moment,
would have set up
new world record on
100m. Richard noticed beside
of electrostatics at the edge of crater.
tb tb rr
The activity normalizes itself and the
luminous cinder ejections came
in the evening hour.
approximately 3 hourly
the strong ash eruptions repeated themselves during the
whole night. These were announced with rich “shining
at each new start.
material over the internal crater edge,
Harbor of Suwanose Jima and backway with
The last volcano:
at the right