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Snow observed at bottom of Mt. Kusatsu-Shirane craters

A crater on the surface of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane's Motoshirane peak is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter in the town of Kusatsu, Gunma Prefecture, on Jan. 28, 2018. (Mainichi)

KUSATSU, Gunma -- Snow was seen on Jan. 28 at the bottom of Mount Kusatsu-Shirane's craters following the Jan. 23 eruptions of its Motoshirane peak, indicating there is no major volcanic activity at present.

    The snow was observed from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter above Motoshirane peak. An expert pointed out that traces of pyroclastic flows were not seen, meaning that the scale of the eruptions that killed one person and injured 11 others was small.

    From the helicopter, three craters along a straight line were seen. In one of them, the mountain's surface looked like it had been gouged out. Trees around the craters had toppled over but there were no volcanic fumes.

    According to the Coordinating Committee for Prediction of Volcanic Eruption, the craters spread over a distance of about 500 meters from east to west. A series of craters makes up a crater chain, which is apparently common among phreatic eruptions. Kazuhiro Ishihara, chairman of the committee and professor emeritus of Kyoto University, said, "It looks like the temperature on the surface around the craters is not high and volcanic activity has calmed down. However, we still need to watch for changes in volcanic gas and the temperature on the surface."

    The Japan Meteorological Agency is warning that there is a possibility that similar eruptions will occur again, which could spew ash and rocks up to 2 kilometers from the craters.

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