Japan Scientists to Closely Monitor Mount Fujigreenspun.com : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread
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http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20010205/sc/volcano_fuji_dc_1.html Monday February 5 10:14 PM ET Japan Scientists to Closely Monitor Mount Fuji
By Elaine Lies
TOKYO (Reuters) - Japanese volcanic experts will closely monitor Mount Fuji following recent signs of faint seismic activity under the famed national symbol, officials said on Tuesday.
They cautioned that this does not mean an eruption is expected any time soon at the snow-capped peak, but that its close proximity to Tokyo warranted careful watching due to a jump in the number of tiny, virtually imperceptible tremors over the past few months.
The number of tremors around Mount Fuji jumped to 35 last September after averaging only one or two a month in recent years.
The tremors rose to 133 in October, then jumped to 222 in November before falling to 144 in December and sliding further to 36 in January.
The experts, who met on Monday as one of a periodic series of gatherings to attempt to gauge the potential timing and impact of eruptions, said they may intensify their monitoring of Mount Fuji, some 93 miles west of Tokyo.
``It was decided that, given the increase in the number of earthquakes, we must keep a close eye on Mount Fuji,'' an official at the volcano section of the Meteorological Agency said.
``This does not mean it will erupt any time in the near future, just that it bears watching and that monitoring should perhaps be intensified.''
He said that no specific measures to increase monitoring were adopted at the meeting but that the group will continue to discuss the issue prior to its next meeting, most likely to be held in May.
Still Considered Active
The 12,390 foot volcano, an inspiration in Japanese art for centuries, last blew in 1707 but is still considered active. A volcano can only be listed as dormant if it shows no sign of activity for 2,000 years.
Kyodo news agency reported that the panel also planned to set up a task force to study disaster prevention plans for people living near the mountain, but the Meteorological Agency official denied this.
``Our focus is on predicting its volcanic activity, not on disaster prevention,'' he added.
Scientists have repeatedly said that while the trend at Mount Fuji is unusual, there are no other signs that point to an eruption any time soon, such as changes in the shape of the peak due to upward movements of magma.
Japan sits atop the junction of at least three tectonic plates, the immense slabs of the earth's crust whose gradual movements make Japan one of the world's most earthquake-prone countries.
Last year saw three volcanic eruptions, including one that forced the evacuation of an entire island south of Tokyo last September.
``We also discussed other volcanoes that are much more active than Mount Fuji right now,'' the official said.
-- K. (firstname.lastname@example.org), March 05, 2001