The Geological Maps of Volcanos in Japan


It’s impossible to live in Japan without bumping into a volcano or two.


There are currently 110 active volcanoes (volcanoes that have been active/still are active in the past 10,000 years) in Japan, of which 47 are under 24-hour surveillance. That doesn’t mean that they are all billowing ash and lava at the moment, of course. It just means that they have a higher chance of erupting in the near future.

Volcanoes tend to wreak havoc when they erupt. They disrupt the lives of the people in the surrounding area, sometimes stop air traffic, and bring up health issues. I still remember seeing the news of how everyone had to evacuate Miyake-jima when a volcano there erupted in 2000.

But there is a plus side to volcanoes as well, if you can believe it. These volcanoes are one of the reasons why Japan has such an abundance of fresh water. The volcanic ash is also known to be rich in minerals that help fertilize the soil. And of course, the amazing onsen experience would not be possible without volcanoes!

One more thing about volcanoes is that they make beautiful geological maps! (Yes, this is where I was heading all along!)

The maps are bright and colorful due to the many layers of different types of rock units on volcanoes. I’ve always loved geological maps. Even in high school, despite not learning a thing in my earth science class, I was drawn to the flow of shapes and colors in geological maps. If I had payed more attention, I may have realized how gorgeous the maps for volcanoes were! (Kids, studying IS important!)

Have you ever climbed a volcano? What do you think of these maps?

My personal favorite, this is Nasu-dake (那須岳), which is near the Alpaca farm and Onsen Shrine.
This is Miyake-jima (三宅島), where parts of the volcano are still off limits due to poisonous gas.
Mt. Aso (阿蘇山), famous for its caldera form, is a popular tourist spot in Kumamoto.
Mt. Kirishima (霧島山) is right by Sakura Sakura Onsen and the garden cafe in Kagoshima.
And this is the ever active Sakura-jima (桜島), which you can see from downtown Kagoshima.

(via Kateoplis)

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8 thoughts on “The Geological Maps of Volcanos in Japan”

  1. Yes, I have climbed a volcano. It is the most famous one in Japan. I have also been up around volcanic areas too, like Owakudani. I have also driving around near the top of Mt. Daisen in Tottori. They call it the San'in Fuji or something like that. Small narrow roads winding around the mountain and ultimately going to Daisen-ji. Also hiked up a bit to the Shrine/Temple. Forgot which one was lower and which was higher. 🙂

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  2. Yep, Mt Fuji and Mt Hakone are definitely active volcanoes. I love how so many mountains around Japan are something-Fuji. I think the one near Ibusuki in Kagoshima is called Satsuma-Fuji, or something similar.

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  3. I have never climbed an active volcano but I stood at the rim of an extinct volcano—Crater Lake in Oregon. I was impressed at the lava flows on Oshima Island in Tokyo. There was plant growth just barely getting a toehold on an older lava flow and nearby the newer flow was hard and completely bare. There were other areas that were forbidden entry to because it was still too hot to walk on. Does this mean I actually did climb a volcano?

    Those maps of yours are really interesting. So much like art, like you say, that you could frame them. How about printing them on material and making clothing? A skirt might be simple.

    I hate to do this but one scientist predicts an eruption of Mt. Fuji this year, 2015. But nothing major. The last time Mt. Fuji-sama erupted was a tad over 3 centuries ago.

    My university Geology teacher mentioned that we live within the Ring of Fire. Glancing at the article I see that Japan holds 10% of the world’s active volcanos. That’s a lot of lava. I can imagine what creepy deep cave dwellers might use for a night light.

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  4. I think Izu Oshima itself is still an active volcano. So yes, yes you did climb a volcano 😀

    The maps do look like they have fabric print potential. And no worries, people have been saying every year that Mt Fuji is going to errupt. It'll happen when it happens. I'm sure Mt Fuji is just as anxious about it as we are.

    Every time someone mentions the Ring of Fire somewhere, I hear Johnny Cash singing ;D

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  5. Ring of Fire is also a term for what happens later after eating super-spicy Thai food. My apologies. My fingers typed this before my better sense could stop them.

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