TERRAPUB Earth, Planets and Space

Earth Planets Space, Vol. 65 (No. 6), pp. 677-698, 2013

Observations of tephra fall impacts from the 2011 Shinmoedake eruption, Japan

Christina Magill1, Thomas Wilson2, and Tetsuya Okada1

1Risk Frontiers, Macquarie University, NSW 2109, Australia
2Department of Geological Sciences, Centre for Risk, Resilience and Renewal, University of Canterbury, Private Bag 4800, Christchurch, New Zealand

(Received November 7, 2012; Revised May 16, 2013; Accepted May 19, 2013; Online published July 8, 2013)

Abstract: The 2011 eruption of Shinmoedake, Japan, deposited tephra across Miyazaki prefecture impacting both urban and rural environments. We provide an overview of the impacts, management and recovery of a modern city, infrastructure networks and a diverse agricultural region following this moderate sized explosive eruption, focusing on four key sectors. Cleanup of tephra was time consuming, physically demanding and costly for residents, businesses and municipal authorities. The agricultural sector sustained large initial impacts with smothering, loading and abrasion of crops, soils and greenhouses. However, extreme concerns at the time of the eruption were not realised, with farming operations experiencing limited long-term effects. There were few disruptions to electrical networks due to resilient insulator design, a successful cleaning program, relatively coarse tephra and dry conditions. Cancellations and delays occurred on three rail lines resulting primarily from mechanical failure of track switches and loss of electrical contact between train wheels and tracks. Both residents and organisations exhibited high levels of adaptive capacity in response to the event and utilised regional and national networks to obtain information on past events and recovery strategies. The combination of relatively short eruption duration, well resourced and coordinated organisations and resilient infrastructure networks contributed to a strong recovery.
Key words: Eruption, impacts, Kirishima, risk, Shinmoedake, tephra, volcanic ash, volcanic hazards.

Corresponding author E-mail: christina.magill@mq.edu.au

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