The Importance Of Volcanoes In Japan

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Volcanoes can be found throughout the world. Often located along tectonic plate boundaries, shield, composite, and cinder cone volcanoes can be beautiful and deadly. The Pacific Ring of Fire is home to volcanic arcs and volcanic island arcs; the volcanoes of Japan are included in this. Japan, like many areas in this ring, is prone to having numerous volcanoes of varying shape, size, and make. According to Japan: A Country Study, “A tenth of the world’s active volcanoes are found in Japan, which lies in a zone of extreme crustal instability” (Bunge, p. 66). All of these volcanoes affect Japan and its landscape in some way or another. The Smithsonian Institution suggests that the Japanese volcanoes can be subdivided into four regions, Hokkaido, Honshu, Izu, and Ryukyu/Kyushu and that each of these has numerous volcanoes (“Japan, Taiwan, Marianas”).
The Hokkaido region lies in the northern part of Japan and is one of its largest islands. Hokkaido has many types of volcanoes present. A few noteworthy volcanoes and calderas of this region are as follows. The Akan Caldera is located in the Akan Volcanic Complex. This caldera has been historically active, and will periodically erupt. However, it has not had a Volcanic Explosive Index level above a one since about 50 B.C.E. The most recent eruption in the Akan caldera came from a cone called Me-Akan on November 18, 2008 (“Japan, Taiwan, Marianas”). The Encyclopedia of Earthquakes and Volcanoes suggests that because earthquakes often precede volcanic eruptions in this area, the Akan Caldera and its cones have been very important in the study of how volcanic and tectonic earthquakes relate to magmatic systems (Gates and Ritchie, p. 4).
Yet another volcano in Hokkaido is the Tokachi-dake...

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...hlorine fumes. The soil temperature began to rise around Sakurajima in 1914. This rise killed the local flora and fauna; eventually the soil became so hot that it could not be held. The benzene and chlorine gases also became a problem when livestock and people became sick around the vents that passed through Sakurajima (Gates and Ritchie, p. 4).
Japan offers a wide variety of volcanoes. “The islands of the Japanese archipelago occupy one of the most concentrated areas of seismic and volcanic activity in the world” (Gates and Ritchie, p. 127). Though the volcanoes of Japan can be very deadly, many are tourist attractions. Mount Fuji, for example, and the numerous hot springs that occur due to volcanic activity are often visited. However, the calderas and volcanoes of this region still cause problems to the people and places of Japan (Gates and Ritchie, p. 127-128).
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