Aso volcano eruption on October 8, 2016, observed by weather radars

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An explosive eruption occurred at the Naka-dake first crater of Aso volcano at 1:46 on October 8, 2016 (JST). According to the field survey conducted by Kumamoto University, Kyoto University, the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, and the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), a large amount of ash fell in the northeast direction of Mt. Aso; in addition, ash falls were confirmed in Kumamoto, Oita, Ehime Kagawa and Okayama Prefectures. Although the eruption was not observed using a distant camera, the eruption cloud echoes were captured by five JMA operational weather radars (Fukuoka, Hiroshima, Tanegashima, Muroto-misaki and Matsue). Using these radars, we found that the eruption cloud echo moved in the northeast direction at the lower troposphere, and in the east-northeast direction at the middle troposphere. This result is consistent with the vertical wind shear observed by the JMA wind profiler. After that, the echo of the volcanic ash cloud in the middle troposphere flowed more than 200 km from Mt. Aso and became ambiguous near Tosa Bay in Kochi Prefecture. In this study, we introduce a new probabilistic plume height estimation method. This method probabilistically evaluates errors due to radar beam width and refractivity of the atmosphere. Using this method, the eruption cloud height is estimated at 12,000 ± 687 m (1σ) above sea level (ASL). This height is lower than 13–14 km, the SO2 cloud altitude estimated by Himawari-8 Ash RGB and the JMA Global Atmospheric Transport Model and is also lower than the radar echo height indicated by JMA (15 km). However, the plume height derived using this method is consistent with 39,000 feet (11.9 km) ASL and the volcanic eruption cloud height analyzed by the Tokyo Volcanic Ash Advisory Center using Himawari-8 infrared bands. Based on the result of the probabilistic estimation method and the duration of the volcanic earthquake due to the eruption (160–220 s), the total emission mass was estimated to be 3.2–7.5 × 108 kg, which is almost consistent with the field survey (6.0–6.5 × 108 kg).[Figure not available: see fulltext.].




Sato, E., Fukui, K., & Shimbori, T. (2018, December 1). Aso volcano eruption on October 8, 2016, observed by weather radars. Earth, Planets and Space. Springer Berlin Heidelberg.

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