The citizens of Japan read a frightening report on Kobe University’s website Wednesday. The report by a scientific group at the university revealed the possibility that a volcanic explosion has the potential to annihilate 95 percent of Japan.
Although the prediction of this occurrence within a 100 year period is only one percent, scientists point to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake which destroyed the city of Kobe in 1995. The earthquake had equally been given only a chance of one percent; 6,400 people died and 4,400 were injured.
The focus of the scientists is the island of Kyushu. An estimated seven major eruptions have occurred from one volcano in the last 120,000 years.
Japan’s population is 127 million. Scientists estimate that if a major eruption were to happen, the surrounding area would be covered by molten lava within two hours. The heavy and caustic volcanic ash would quickly move into heavily inhabited areas creating devastation which would be life-threatening.
Another concern is that one specific volcano is adjacent to a nuclear power plant. The Sendai Plant is located just 64 kilometers from volcano Loyama in the mountainous area of Kyushu.
These predictions come after last month’s eruption of Mount Ontake. 57 hikers were killed, making it Japan’s worst volcano-related incident in 90 years. Scientists have detected continuous rumblings in the area, but insist that another eruption is not imminent. As a precaution, the Sendai Plant has been taken offline, and will remain so until scientists declare the area free from immediate threat. The devastation created by the earthquake and resulting tsunami at the Fukushima Plant in 2011 are forcing the Kyushu Power Company to be extra cautious.
The entire area which contains several active volcanoes has seen a raise in the alert level from normal to dangerous.
The Fukushima melt-down forced the evacuation of 300,000 people. The cause of the melt-down, a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, followed by a gigantic tsunami, resulted in 15,884 deaths. The conditions at Fukushima have been downgraded. Radioactive water continues to leak into the Pacific Ocean. At first engineers assumed only a portion of the fuel rods had melted to the bottom of the reactor; now they know 100 percent are resting on the floor.
The largest volcanic eruption took place in 1815 at Mount Tambora. The most famous, and second largest was on the island of Krakatoa in 1883. More than 36,500 people were killed. A realistic depiction of the disaster became a documentary for the BBC and was aired in 2006.
By James Turnage