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Japanese island volcano active since June belches smoke reaching 8,300 meters

Smoke rises from the volcanic Nishinoshima island in this photo taken on June 29, 2020. (Photo courtesy of the Japan Coast Guard)

TOKYO -- The smoke plume pouring out of the volcanic Nishinoshima island -- part of the World Heritage-designated Ogasawara island chain approximately 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo -- has reached an altitude of about 8,300 meters, according to weather satellite observations, the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) announced July 4.

The plume is at its highest since volcanic activity picked up in 2013, vastly expanding the island's surface area. According to the JMA, volcanic activity surged again starting in June this year. The agency has continued to warn of large flying rocks and lava flows within some 2.5 kilometers of the crater.

When the Japan Coast Guard observed the eruption from the air on June 29, black smoke had reached at least 3,400 meters up, and the mountain's central crater had expanded in a south-westerly direction. Officials said that lava from the crater had reached the ocean. The JMA has put out an alert to all sea vessels near the island.

(Japanese original by Shuichi Abe, Science & Environment News Department)

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