Japan Volcano Suddenly Erupts: Mt. Ontake Damages Holiday Hikers High On Slopes

Without any warning, Mt. Ontake suddenly erupted trapping more than 200 hikers.  The eruption continued for five hours.  Vacationing or living near volcanoes as many major cities including Tokyo are very near active major volcanos, is dangerous.  Most people have no idea what to do in an eruption.  First thing is to cover the face, secondly, take shelter on the downside of large boulders though if it is a big explosion where the top of the mountain blows sky high, there is no way of staying alive within 50 miles.


Volcano erupts in central Japan; 7 unconscious, 250 stranded ‹ Japan Today: Japan News and Discussion


Nagano police sent a team of 80 to the mountain to assist the climbers who were making their way down, while Kiso Prefectural Hospital, near the mountain, said it had dispatched a medical emergency team.


“We expect a lot of injured people so we are now getting ready for their arrival,” said an official at the hospital.  More than five hours after the initial eruption, the thick ash cloud showed no signs of abating, NHK TV showed.


We can hear coughing as panicked hikers try in vain to outrun the eruption.  Hot volcanic ash is very bad for the lungs and even when rescued, will cause lung problems perhaps for life.  Volcanic ash isn’t like sea sand, for example.  The pounding of waves or river sand which has water churning the rocks, are not very damaging.


But volcano dust is like broken glass and has very sharp edges which lodge easily in the capillaries and tissue of the lungs. Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis is the longest word in English, the short version is Silicosis.  The worst symptoms show up after several years.


What is sad about all this is the hikers were there to breathe ‘clean air’ and stroll about, getting exercise.  Now, they will suffer crippling problems and won’t be able to climb stairs much less mountains in the future.


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Filed under Geology

7 responses to “Japan Volcano Suddenly Erupts: Mt. Ontake Damages Holiday Hikers High On Slopes

  1. charlottemom

    Who will pay the erupting volcanos carbon tax!! Ha
    Did these climbers not know this was an active volcano?

  2. Jim R

    About fifty years ago, the term “extinct volcano” was used in popular media to refer to something that had erupted at some time in the past. Non-extinct volcanoes were the ones like in Hawaii or in Iceland that regularly rumbled and spewed smelly gas and hot rocks.

    Modern vulcanologists no longer use the term “extinct”.

    By the way, a lot more people now live on the slopes of the same Italian mountain that obliterated Pompeii and Herculaneum. When it blows again, it’ll kill something like 8 million.

  3. Luke

    Who will pay the erupting volcanos carbon tax????
    Priceless [pun unintended].

  4. Jim

    Latest toll: at least 36 people dead and counting. Many people were cought in the lethal pyroclastic flow and were obliterated, so the actual number is hard to get.

    Amazing and terrifing footage of the eruption, from multiple sources, can be found on YouTube: http://youtu.be/Etg7Gl18nKU

    People cought in this monster didn’t have a chance. Nobody saw this eruption coming, including volcanologists and happy hikers alike.

    Eleine, I remember that during the time of the tsunami and the Fukushima meltdown, you had mentioned in a post that a major volcano was about to erupt in Japan. You were proven to be correct, in the end. The Japanese people were very lucky that it wasn’t Fuji-san, but its cousin Kiso Ontake-san.

    The honorifics show that at one point in history, the Japanese people knew well how terrible volcanos can be and the fact that they deserve respect and fear.

  5. emsnews

    Fuji is going to blow, too.

  6. All the Cascade volcanos are what we call ‘dirty volcanos’ that erupt with a lot of debris and catastrophic dust/dirt events.

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