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A phreatic eruption at Mount Ontake (3067 m) on September 27, 2014, led to 64 casualties, including missing people. In this paper, we clarify the eruption sequence of the 2014 eruption from recorded images (photographs and videos obtained by climbers) and interviews with mountain guides and workers in mountain huts. The onset of eruption was sudden, without any clear precursory surface phenomena (such as ground rumbling or strong smell of sulfide). Our data indicate that the eruption sequence can be divided into three phases. Phase 1: The eruption started with dry pyroclastic density currents (PDCs) caused by ash column collapse. The PDCs flowed down 2.5 km SW and 2 km NW from the craters. In addition, PDCs moved horizontally by approximately 1.5 km toward N and E beyond summit ridges. The temperature of PDCs at the summit area partially exceeded 100 °C, and an analysis of interview results suggested that the temperature of PDCs was mostly in the range of 30–100 °C. At the summit area, there were violent falling ballistic rocks. Phase 2: When the outflow of PDCs stopped, the altitude of the eruption column increased; tephra with muddy rain started to fall; and ambient air temperature decreased. Falling ballistic rocks were almost absent during this phase. Phase 3: Finally, muddy hot water flowed out from the craters. These models reconstructed from observations are consistent with the phreatic eruption models and typical eruption sequences recorded at similar volcanoes.


  • Earth, Planets and Space

    Earth, Planets and Space 68(79), 2016-05-14



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