Earthquake Swarm Preceded Japanese Eruption

Earthquake Swarm Preceded Japanese Eruption
Japan's Shinmoedake volcano erupted after a swarm of more than 100 earthquakes. Residents of the Canary Islands fear the same could happen with one of their volcanoes after an unprecedented swarm of earthquakes began there this week.

More than 100 earthquakes preceded the eruption of a Japanese volcano, and now seismologists have been called in to investigate an unusual tremor swarm that has struck halfway around the world on the Canary Islands, sparking concerns that volcanic activity there could be eminent.

At the beginning of the month, the area surrounding the Shinmoedake volcano on the island of Kyushu began experiencing a series of relatively minor earthquakes, believed to be caused by magma and hot water movement. The volcanic dome, part of the “Mt. Kirishima cluster” of volcanoes, was placed at Alert Level 2 by the Japanese Meteorological Agency.

The volcano erupted Tuesday morning, and the alert level has been raised to Level 3. The last time it erupted was in 2011, also following a series of quakes.

Now many of the 2.2 million residents of the Canary Islands off the northwest coast of Africa are worried the same might happen to their own local volcano. La Palma, which sits at the base of the Cumbre Vieja volcano on the island of Gran Canaria, has been impacted by more than 50 low-intensity earthquakes in the past three days.

Such a swarm has never been recorded on the volcanically active Canary Islands before. The National Geographic Institute and the Canary Islands’ Territorial Policy, Sustainability and Security Department are both monitoring the earthquakes. A team of five seismologists are on site to keep track if an immediate change in the volcano’s condition occurs.

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