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SHAKE AND BLOW
Scientists plan to probe 'plumbing' of Mount St. Helens volcano
by Staff Writers
Seattle (UPI) Aug 15, 2013


Japan volcano in spectacular eruption
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 18, 2013 - A volcano in southern Japan erupted in spectacular fashion on Sunday, spewing an ash plume up to 5,000 metres into the air, meteorological officials said, according to a report.

The eruption of the 1,117-metre (3,665-foot) Mount Sakurajima near Kagoshima city took place around 4:30 pm (0730 GMT), Jiji Press said.

A large amount of volcanic ash fell in the northern and central parts of the city, causing a delay in train services and temporary poor visibility, forcing car drivers to use their headlights.

The eruption also resulted in a small flow of volcanic material up to about one kilometre (half a mile) from the crater, Jiji said.

It was the 500th eruption this year of Sakurajima, which is about 950 kilometres southwest of Tokyo. The eruption lasted for about 50 minutes.

A study in Washington is intended to develop a better understanding of how the state's Mount St. Helens gets its supply of volcanic magma, researchers say.

The 2-year project called Imaging Magma Under St. Helens, led by researchers at the University of Washington, could bring improvements in volcanic monitoring and advance warning systems at Mount St. Helens and other volcanoes, a university release reported Thursday.

"The main goal is to understand the plumbing system of the mountain," earth and space sciences Professor Kenneth Creager said.

The study in a broad area of southwestern Washington will have three separate components, the researchers said: passive-source seismic monitoring, active-source seismic monitoring and magnetotelluric monitoring, which uses fluctuations in Earth's electromagnetic field to produce images of structures beneath the surface.

The study's goal is a better understanding of how volcanoes work and particularly a much clearer idea of what is happening below Mount St. Helens, they said.

"Previous work has shown there is magma down to about 3 miles deep, but there is not a large reservoir of the molten rock," Creager said. "We need a clearer picture of this magma system and its deeper origins."

Mount St. Helens is the focus of the study because it has been the most active volcano in the Cascade Range, erupting twice in the last 35 years including a catastrophic eruption in May 1980.

"Developing a better understanding of the underlying magma system and how it relates to the top of the volcano will allow scientists to make more accurate assessments of the volcano's status when it becomes active in the future," Creager said.

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