ScienceShot: Japanese Volcano Filled to the Brim

All eyes on Japan’s Kyushu Island are on the growing lava dome of the volcanic peak Shinmoedake, which has been erupting off and on since 26 January. This image captured on 4 February shows the lava nearly filling the 700-meter-wide crater. Scientists are predicting that eruptions could grow stronger and go on for months. The peak's last major eruption continued for a year and a half in 1716 and 1717. The University of Tokyo's Earthquake Research Institute is posting regular updates of its observations, including photos taken from the air (first in Japanese and a few days later in English). Kagoshima Prefecture posts pictures from a neighboring peak that are updated every minute. Ash from the volcano, although minor compared with what spewed from Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull last year, has disrupted flights and buried fields of winter vegetables. More than 1000 residents evacuated the rural area during the first eruptions, but most have returned. There have been no deaths or serious injuries so far.

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