Explorer Explains Eruption

SCIENCE

For the past 35 years, Mount Ontake, Japan, has seen little volcanic activity. That all ended Saturday—listen to one veteran volcano climber’s insights. (National Geographic News)

Use our resources to better understand volcanoes.

Mount Ontake is Japan's second-highest volcanic peak, second only to the similar-looking Mount Fuji. Photograph by Alpsdake, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Mount Ontake is Japan’s second-highest volcanic peak, second only to the similar-looking Mount Fuji.
Photograph by Alpsdake, courtesy Wikimedia. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Discussion Ideas

  • Read through our activity “Types of Volcanic Eruptions,” which includes a video about volcanoes and volcanic eruptions. The video describes some differences between composite volcanoes and shield volcanoes. Based on Nat Geo photographer Carsten Peter’s description of the eruption, do you think Mount Ontake is a composite volcano or a shield volcano? Why?
    • Mount Ontake is a classic composite volcano, also called a stratovolcano.
      • Mount Ontake has steep slopes, like most composite volcanoes.
      • Mount Ontake erupted suddenly and violently, a characteristic of composite volcanoes.
      • Mount Ontake erupted with toxic gases and ash, both characteristics of composite volcanoes.

 

 

NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), onboard the satellite Aqua, snapped this fantastic photo of Mount Ontake on September 27, just a day after the startling, violent eruption that claimed the lives of more than three dozen hikers and tourists. NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), onboard the satellite Aqua, snapped this fantastic photo of Mount Ontake on September 27, just a day after the startling, violent eruption that claimed the lives of more than three dozen hikers and tourists. The wispy trail of smoke and steam don’t look quite as impressive as those white clouds to the north, but still.
NASA image courtesy Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC

 

  • Look at our MapMaker Interactive Map of Japan’s tectonic plates. Click on the first bookmark, “Japan volcanoes,” which highlights our layer on Japan’s volcanic activity. Use the zoom feature to find Mount Ontake, which is just about halfway between the cities of Nagoya and Matsumoto. Using the “Legend” tab in top right menu, can you determine the number of significant volcanic eruptions experienced by Mount Ontake?
    • No! Trick question! Mount Ontake is not represented by a symbol on the map, as this is its first significant volcanic eruption.

 

Mount Ontake has been a familiar landmark in Japan for as long as there has been a Japan! This gorgeous woodblock print shows Mount Ontake towering over resting travelers on the Nakasendo, one of the main roads in 19th-century Japan. Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) by Keisai Eisen

Mount Ontake has been a familiar landmark in Japan for as long as there has been a Japan! This gorgeous woodblock print (ukiyo-e) shows Mount Ontake towering over resting travelers on the Nakasendo, one of the main roads in 19th-century Japan. Browse through ukiyo-e prints of all the post-office stations on the Nakasendo here—Mount Ontake is #36. Ukiyo-e (woodblock print) by Keisai Eisen

 

 

TEACHER TOOLKIT

NG News Article: Q&A: Veteran Volcano Climber on the Allure, Danger of Japan’s “Holy Mountain”

Activity: Types of Volcanic Eruptions

MapMaker Interactive:

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