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Japan Science

Mt. Fuji May Be Close To Erupting 269

SpuriousLogic points out an article at Wired discussing research into pressure levels inside Mt. Fuji's magma chamber, which scientists claim is higher than it was in 1707, the last time it erupted. "The new readings, taken by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, reveal that the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption." A series of earthquakes shook the area around Mt. Fuji a little over a decade ago, and a fault line was discovered underneath it. "Since the March 2011 tsunami and the 6.4 magnitude earthquake that followed four days later, Japan has been on tenterhooks, and in May 2012 a professor from Ryukyu University warned that a massive eruption within three years would be likely because of several major factors: steam and gases are being emitted from the crater, water eruptions are occurring nearby, massive holes emitting hot natural gases are appearing in the vicinity." While the rising pressure within the magma chamber is of concern, it is but one factor among many that lead to eruptions.
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Mt. Fuji May Be Close To Erupting

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  • by redbeardcanada ( 1052028 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:24PM (#41262449)
    I am going to Japan in October, so in addition to earthquakes, tsunamis, radiation, ninjas, and godzilla, I now also have to worry about lava??? Damn...
    • by es330td ( 964170 )
      This sounds like a classic side scroller video game. What are you going to do for power-ups or extra lives?
    • You don't have to worry about ninjas unless you're a pirate.

      Well? Are you?

    • You forgot Mothra. They've already found radioactive butterfiles near Fukushima.

      Godzilla vs Mothra wasn't sci-fi after all... it was prophecy!

    • Don't forget battle mechs and tentacled rapist sea monsters.

    • wait for Japan to come to you.

    • just get the ninjas on your side, then you'll be fine.

    • While you're there...BUY UP ALL the hard drive parts! Lol. Wow slashdot doesn't like caps even when appropriate.
  • My mountain asplode!

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:28PM (#41262517)

    They have indeed had more than enough of natural disasters, as well as self-triggered disasters.

  • by sacrilicious ( 316896 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:28PM (#41262527) Homepage

    >the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption.

    I'm no mathematician, but I'm pretty sure that 1.6 divided by 0.1 is *EXACTLY* 16.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:43PM (#41262803)

      My P5 system says 1.6 / 0.1 = 16.000739068902037589.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by tippe ( 1136385 )

      In their defence, both 1.6 and 0.1 are likely numbers that are rounded from some more precise measurements. The term "nearly" probably applied to the original measurements as opposed to the nicely rounded numbers presented in TFA. Just sayin'...

    • Re:"Nearly"? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:47PM (#41262897)

      I'm curious, do you say, "I'll be there in 58 minutes and 48 seconds," or do you say, "I'll be there in an hour?"

      I'm pretty sure both the .1 and the 1.6 megapascals is a rough estimate and not a 100% exact, set-in-stone figure.

      • I'm curious, do you say, "I'll be there in 58 minutes and 48 seconds," or do you say, "I'll be there in an hour?"

        I say "Google Maps tells me it's going to take 58 minutes, 48 seconds to get there - so I'll see you in an hour and a half".

  • by ACK!! ( 10229 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:28PM (#41262529) Journal
    From the article: "Regions that would be affected, including Kanagawa, Yamanashi and Shizuoka, plan to hold a test run of an evacuation by 2014, with a meeting of local governments covering progress of the plans and of shelter preparations slated for April 2013." It seems if the pressure is higher than the last time the damn mountain went boom that they would speed up preparations a tad. Wow, laid back disaster relief.
    • Evacuating that many people would be a gargantuan civil project, its doubtful many countries could even attempt a test run. Its not like everyone can simply form an orderly line and proceed calmly to the nearest exit, transport infrastructure will be swamped, to say nothing of post-incident survivor support. I wonder will they move everyone, or just a few in trial areas.

      • by magarity ( 164372 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @03:36PM (#41265323)

        Its not like everyone can simply form an orderly line and proceed calmly to the nearest exit

        Apparently you've never been to Japan.

        See some of the pictures from the last earthquake and tsunami; people evacuating the subway stations are stopped and standing to one side in a neat line on the halted escalator to let emergency workers go down past.

        • The point is that there isn't a "nearest exit" when you're trying to move that many people quickly. There are a series of increasingly congested exits, leading ultimately to a triage situation in terms of casualties. Maybe the Japanese will work out a plan to get everyone clear in good time, who knows. I'd be interested to see it anyway.

        • Hell, you'd think they would move everyone away and do something to TRIGGER an eruption, when they are ready for it.

          Probably the best way to go about it - you can do it on your terms, or you can do it when the mountain wants to do it.

    • by chromas ( 1085949 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:58PM (#41264561)
      They don't want to risk premature evacuation.
  • Or leave it there for science. If Fuji-san erupts and buries the park on top in lava and/or ash, how long will the coke inside the cans stay fresh? We could dig it out a hundred years from now to check on the carbonation levels.
    • by Maximum Prophet ( 716608 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:42PM (#41262783)
      I had a can of Mellow Yellow that didn't get a pull tab installed, so I kept it as an conversation piece. It got left on it's side for a few years, and the contents ate through the aluminum lid. I think the sides of the can were coated, but not the top. Most can machines keep their cans on the side, so they won't last more than a decade or so if not refridgerated.
      • by TheRedSeven ( 1234758 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:21PM (#41263611) Homepage
        True. Most metal cans (the kind used for packaging, anyway) are coated with a layer of plastic to prevent interaction with the Al/Sn in the metal of the substrate itself. Particularly with acidic contents (tomatoes are the ones that come most readily to mind.) Can *ends* are manufactured separately and joined to the can bodies themselves after filling. Some can ends are coated with plastic over the majority of the surface, but others have perforations and other 'gaps' that allow for proper sealing/seaming between the can and the can end, and for tabs to break through, etc. Any place the plastic coating is missing and an acidic ingredient can come into contact with the metal, corrosion can occur (though slowly).

        Source: I'm a market researcher specializing in food/beverage packaging in the US.
    • Coke machines are essential in times of national emergency. Haven't you ever seen Dr. Strangelove?

      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel... that Coca-Cola machine. I want you to shoot the lock off it. There may be some change in there.
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: That's private property.
      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: Colonel! Can you possibly imagine what is going to happen to you, your frame, outlook, way of life, and everything, when they learn that you have obstructed a telephone call to the President of the United States? Can you imagine? Shoot it off! Shoot! With a gun! That's what the bullets are for, you twit!
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: Okay. I'm gonna get your money for ya. But if you don't get the President of the United States on that phone, you know what's gonna happen to you?
      Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: What?
      Colonel "Bat" Guano: You're gonna have to answer to the Coca-Cola company.

  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <robert@lauBLUEre ... .org minus berry> on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:38PM (#41262717)

    could they maybe drill a set of holes and
    1 steer the lava to someplace NOT populated
    2 prevent the lava camber from going full bore BOOM

    when using Po^HMnt Fuji for your scam always set your clock for Volcano Day

  • Any vulcanologist around that can explain why we can't relieve the pressure in some way.
    • by oogoliegoogolie ( 635356 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @01:59PM (#41263145)

      IANAV, but I would guess that a 30cm bore hole wouldn't have much of an effect on a magma chamber that is miles wide.

      • There would also be the difficulty of keeping the hole from plugging as the magma cooled on its way to the surface. Or what to even drill the hole with... I'm not aware of any drilling equipment that can reliably drill into liquid rock.

        Lastly, even if you do solve the above problems; there is a word for venting magma to atmosphere: Volcano.

        • The idea is that you need to vent the magma in a slow, controlled way, rather than letting the pressure build up until it explodes. Direct the magma (now "lava" after it's out of the ground) into the sea.

      • I guess it would depend on the temperature/pressure/bore hole material. Would some magma burp up, cool, and reseal the hole after destroying the drill bit, or would it blow to the surface and destroy the drilling rig, and continue flowing for days or weeks? Perhaps you could drill almost to the magna, then use an explosive to break the seal.

        If a flow could be established, the pressure would eventually go down, and the hole would tend to melt itself bigger. That might cause earthquakes in itself.

        • Some small earthquakes caused by a pressure-relief hole would be far preferable to a giant volcanic eruption. It'd also be best if some kind of path for the lava were built to direct it someplace safe, like into the sea.

      • IANAV

        I am not a volcano?

    • IANAV but like everyone else on /. I sometimes indulge in armchair quarterbacking... The simple answer is that Japanese science and engineering--which is incomparable on the subjects of seismology and volcanology--isn't up to the task. Japanese scientists suspect that there are at least two magma chambers []. A deeper one at around 20km and a shallower one around 8 or 9km. They're still talking about suspicions of what the magma system looks like. Even if you could overcome the engineering hurdles of dril
  • The new readings, taken by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, reveal that the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption

    If that's what it takes to trigger an eruption, why didn't it happen 1.5 megapascals ago?

    • Because, according to TFS:

      While the rising pressure within the magma chamber is of concern, it is but one factor among many that lead to eruptions.

    • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:01PM (#41263187)

      The new readings, taken by the National Research Institute for Earth Science and Disaster Prevention, reveal that the pressure is at 1.6 megapascals, nearly 16 times the 0.1 megapascals it takes to trigger an eruption

      If that's what it takes to trigger an eruption, why didn't it happen 1.5 megapascals ago?

      Probably the same reason why even though a cigarette is enough to trigger a gasoline explosion, people still manage to smoke while fueling their cars without blowing themselves up - a cigarette is sufficient to set it off, but it takes a combination of factors to make it happen.

      • by geek ( 5680 )

        Cigarettes won't set off gasoline. You need an open flame. A cigarette will just get put out when dipped in liquid fuel.

        • by hawguy ( 1600213 )


          While being drawn, a cigarette has a temperature of around 400 - 500 degC, while the auto ignition temperature of gasoline is 280 degC.

          You may be able to throw a lit cigarette in a pool of gasoline and extinguish the cigarette, but I woudn't want to bend down and tie my shoe with my mouth near the gas filler nozzle with gasoline vapor escaping from my gas tank (which admittedly with modern sealed tanks and vapor recovery nozzles is minimal, but I still wouldn't bet my life on it).

          http://wandererh. []

        • Cigarettes won't set off gasoline. You need an open flame. A cigarette will just get put out when dipped in liquid fuel.

          I'm so glad you are not working with flammable materials anywhere near me. Liquid gasoline, yes. Gasoline *vapors*, on the other hand, can go off on just a spark or lit cigarette if conditions are right. Most of the time, the vapors won't be thick enough, particularly if you handle the gasoline properly (but somebody smoking near gasoline *already* isn't handling it properly; how can he

  • I think this is Mother Earth's way to tell all AGW'ers that, "Hey I can fucking take care of myself."

    Seriously, though, I wonder how much ash this will put in the air and how much it will cool the Earth's warming, if at all? This seems like it could be a major ELE, or it could be a major dud.

  • I was watching a documentary about Mt St Hellens and they mentioned that due to the shape of the mountain (pre-incident) it was called "The Mt Fuji of North America". - They went on to describe why the shape of the mountain contributed to the particular way in which St Hellens went.

    Ever since then, I was wondering why Japanese scientist weren't worried about Fuji. - Now I know: They ARE worried.

    • I'm sure they've always been worried. Mt. Fuji has been part of Japanese culture for centuries. There is not one single equivalent of national focus in the US. I doubt if its been ignored. Especially since there's been 16 eruptions in recorded history.

      But you're not Japanese, so you wouldn't know about their work, just as much as i think the typical Japanese wouldn't know much about San Andreas fault prep here.

  • Godzilla!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I climbed Mt. Fuji about 4 years ago and all I can think about is whats going to happen to all the people who make a living off the mountain? When you get to the top there is actually a small village on top with shops and homemade food for the people who make it, even at the bottom theres tons of base areas for people to stock up on supplies before the trek. Even along the way there are rest stops and marker points with people to provide services if needed and to sell food. Its a shame to think that all

  • I hiked around Mt Fuji in 2009. It's a beautiful area surrounded by a nice town and tons of hotels and tourist areas. It's pretty scary that it could pop at any moment. There will be lots of lost life and property if it erupts big.

  • by G3ckoG33k ( 647276 ) on Friday September 07, 2012 @02:25PM (#41263733)

    Here is an excerpt from an article called "Social Impact of an Eruption of Mount Fuji"

    "The current study focuses only on possible damage from ashfall in an eruption of Mt Fuji
    that is comparable to that in the Hoei Eruption. If there are other volcanic disasters such
    as landslides, lava flow and pyroclastic flow, the damage will be even greater. The
    important message sent out by this study is that even ashfall alone can cause severe
    damage: the social and economic impact will likely be felt by the entire nation, not just
    restricted to a local area around the mountain.
    The following topics will be important from a policy science perspective:
    1) socioeconomic impact of interruptions to transportation and logistics including the
    expressways (Chuo, Tomei, Metropolitan), bullet trains, metropolitan and other train
    networks, and domestic as well as international air services;
    2) verification of the primary and secondary types of damage postulated by this study;
    3) closer study of damage to the manufacturing industry caused by the uncertainty
    perceived by suppliers and customers and damage to the tourism industry due to
    cancellations by consumers; and,
    4) study of ash removal methods (based on experiences in past ashfalls) and their
    The present paper is an interim report of the work to create an eruption scenario based on
    the interview-based surveys. It is our plan to conduct questionnaire studies of
    businesses, survey researches, interviews of local agencies in the areas of past ashfalls,
    and expert surveys in disaster-related fields. The scenario will be refined through
    critiques and discussions as a re sult of these further works.
    As far as the specific effects and implications of ashfall are concerned, the current study
    has based itself on interviews with disaster-prevention practitioners in companies,
    different levels of governments, and lifeline services. The following effects are left for
    future study:
    - implications on sewage-system overflow, flooding of rivers (problems in
    drainage when ashfall is followed by rain );
    - estimated volume of ashfall that will settle on riverbeds (estimating the
    probability of flooding) ;
    - effects of volcanic ash on wireless communications and radio waves;
    - effects of volcanic ash on water quality;
    - effects of volcanic ash on outdoor precision equipment and automobiles
    and other machinery;
    - effects of volcanic ash on boilers and combustion systems (since ash
    affects airplane engines); and,
    - indoor pollution by volcanic ash and its effects on precision equipment
    It is, strictly speaking, important to conduct empirical studies in engineering and physical
    science on these topics, but apparently not too much has been done in this area. When
    more is known about these topics, the present scenario of ashfall damage equivalent to
    that in the Hoei Eruption could be further refined."

  • This may sound very ignorant, but when something is pressurized, can't you just open it up and release the pressure? Grab some remote control drilling rigs, plop it down in the crater and let it get to work, release the pressure slowly so that it doesn't come out with a bang at random. This way too, they can tell the surrounding area that they may have to evacuate during the drilling process, just in case, and potentially save lives instead of having a random boom?
    • by Teun ( 17872 )
      You seem to lack a grasp of the size of this volcano.

      The deepest holes man has drilled were around 12 km. or 40,000 ft. and of a tiny diameter. Drilling near hot magma is going to melt the bit before it gets anywhere near puncturing the wall of rock containing it.

  • Quick somebody call Shinji, we might be facing Sandalphon []
  • Being cold and analytical here about primary effects (I know there would be tremendous deaths and human suffering) if it happened within the next year or so, this would probably put the world into a worldwide recession or depression. The American economy is recovering, but very weakly. Europe is on the skids, and China is slowing fast. If Japan's economy was broken for any extended length of time, it would easily push us over the brink into a worldwide skid, causing tremendous secondary human suffering all

  • Program Fuji;

    var pressure : longint;

    function Get_Pressure : longint;
        Get_Pressure := 1700000

    Procedure Blow;

        pressure := Get_Pressure;
        if pressure > 1600000 Then

    (* been around 20+ years since I last used Pascal. Does this even compile? *)

Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.