AsianScientist (Oct. 25, 2016) – Damage from the 2016 Kumamoto earthquake could hasten the eruption of Mt. Aso in Japan, volcanologists warn in a paper published in Science.
Mt. Aso is one of the largest active volcanoes in the world. The Kumamoto earthquake that occurred on April 16, 2016, study authors say, were a rare opportunity to study how faults form in the vicinity of volcanoes; the researchers could carry out before-and-after comparisons of fault distribution in the area. Field investigations, seismic data, and analysis of high-resolution Google Earth images showed that the earthquake produced new faults and surface ruptures.
“Large earthquakes often accompany or precede volcanic eruptions. The presence of magma does have an association with the distribution of active faults, but whether volcanoes affect the fault rupturing following an earthquake remained unclear due to the lack of case studies,” said Dr. Lin Aiming of Kyoto University, who led the study.
According to Lin, the group’s findings show that propagation of ruptures from this earthquake terminated in Aso caldera because of the presence of magma beneath the Aso volcanic cluster.
These then influence factors like the nucleation of interpolate earthquakes, seismicity patterns, source rupture processes, strong ground motion and recurrence behavior of fault segments. The study results, the authors wrote, could play an important role in reassessing volcanic hazard in the Aso volcano area.
And in fact, Mt. Aso did erupt on October 8, 2016, after the research team had submitted the paper.
“We are surprised that Aso volcano erupted after a 36-year dormant duration, as we documented in this paper that the new faults changed the spatial and mechanical dynamics of Aso volcano,” noted Lin.
The article can be found at: Lin et al. (2016) Coseismic rupturing stopped by Aso volcano during the 2016 Mw 7.1 Kumamoto earthquake, Japan.
Source: Kyoto University; Photo: Pixabay.
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