Mount Fuji In 'Critical State': Eruption Possible?

Dustin Wicksell

Japan's iconic Mount Fuji is in a "critical state," according to researchers, leading to fears that an eruption may be imminent.

The highest point on the Japanese archipelago and a national symbol, Mount Fuji is constantly monitored by the government, due to its nature as an active volcano. Fujisan, as the Japanese call it, has rarely stirred in modern times, but researchers claim that the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 has increased subterranean pressure below the mountain, which sits at the meeting point of three tectonic plates.

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"We cannot establish a direct relation of cause and effect between quakes and volcanic eruptions, even if statistically the former lead to an increase in the latter. All we can say is that Mount Fuji is now in a state of pressure, which means it displays a high potential for eruption. The risk is clearly higher."

Mount Fuji last erupted in 1707, an event preceded by a magnitude 8.7 quake to the south of Japan, 49 days earlier, that generated a tsunami which claimed 5,000 lives. While the Tohoku earthquake and its attendant tidal wave are three years in the past, researchers caution that elapsed time does not necessarily mean Mount Fuji is slumbering.

[Image via TNW]