Bulletin of Volcanology

, Volume 66, Issue 3, pp 243–262 | Cite as

Sequence and eruptive style of the 1783 eruption of Asama Volcano, central Japan: a case study of an andesitic explosive eruption generating fountain-fed lava flow, pumice fall, scoria flow and forming a cone

  • Maya YasuiEmail author
  • Takehiro Koyaguchi
Research Article


The 3-month long eruption of Asama volcano in 1783 produced andesitic pumice falls, pyroclastic flows, lava flows, and constructed a cone. It is divided into six episodes on the basis of waxing and waning inferred from records made during the eruption. Episodes 1 to 4 were intermittent Vulcanian or Plinian eruptions, which generated several pumice fall deposits. The frequency and intensity of the eruption increased dramatically in episode 5, which started on 2 August, and culminated in a final phase that began on the night of 4 August, lasting for 15 h. This climactic phase is further divided into two subphases. The first subphase is characterized by generation of a pumice fall, whereas the second one is characterized by abundant pyroclastic flows. Stratigraphic relationships suggest that rapid growth of a cone and the generation of lava flows occurred simultaneously with the generation of both pumice falls and pyroclastic flows. The volumes of the ejecta during the first and second subphases are 0.21 km3 (DRE) and 0.27 km3 (DRE), respectively. The proportions of the different eruptive products are lava: cone: pumice fall=84:11:5 in the first subphase and lava: cone: pyroclastic flow=42:2:56 in the second subphase. The lava flows in this eruption consist of three flow units (L1, L2, and L3) and they characteristically possess abundant broken phenocrysts, and show extensive "welding" texture. These features, as well as ghost pyroclastic textures on the surface, indicate that the lava was a fountain-fed clastogenic lava. A high discharge rate for the lava flow (up to 106 kg/s) may also suggest that the lava was initially explosively ejected from the conduit. The petrology of the juvenile materials indicates binary mixing of an andesitic magma and a crystal-rich dacitic magma. The mixing ratio changed with time; the dacitic component is dominant in the pyroclasts of the first subphase of the climactic phase, while the proportion of the andesitic component increases in the pyroclasts of the second subphase. The compositions of the lava flows vary from one flow unit to another; L1 and L3 have almost identical compositions to those of pyroclasts of the first and second subphases, respectively, while L2 has an intermediate composition, suggesting that the pyroclasts of the first and second subphases were the source of the lava flows, and were partly homogenized during flow. The complex features of this eruption can be explained by rapid deposition of coarse pyroclasts near the vent and the subsequent flowage of clastogenic lavas which were accompanied by a high eruption plume generating pumice falls and/or pyroclastic flows.


Asama volcano Clastogenic lava flow Explosive eruption Plinian eruption Pyroclastic cone 



This study began as the PhD thesis of M.Y. at Nihon University supervised by Professor Shigeo Aramaki. We gratefully acknowledge S. Aramaki for many helpful arrangements, suggestions, and discussions. We also wish to thank M. Inoue, K. Inoue, I. Moriya, and S. Takarada for discussions in the field. We thank the staff of the Asama Volcano Observatory, University of Tokyo for supporting our field work. We also thank T.L. Wright for a critical review of the manuscript. This manuscript was significantly improved by reviews by A. Freundt, B.F. Houghton, G. Ernst, and P. Cole. Suggestions by T. Druitt and J. Girbert were helpful. Part of this study was supported by funds of Ministry of Education, Science and Culture of Japan to T.K. (nos. 09640505, 14080204 and 14540388).


  1. Abe K, Takahashi M (1987) Description of the November 21, 1986 fissure eruption on the caldera floor of Izu-Oshima Volcano, Japan: analysis of a series of photographs. Bull Earthquake Res Inst Univ Tokyo 62:149–162Google Scholar
  2. Aramaki S (1956) The 1783 activity of Asama volcano. Part I. Jpn J Geol Geogr 27:189–229Google Scholar
  3. Aramaki S (1957) The 1783 activity of Asama volcano. Part II. Jpn J Geol Geogr 28:11–33Google Scholar
  4. Aramaki S (1963) Geology of Asama volcano. J Facult Sci Univ Tokyo sec 2 14:229–443Google Scholar
  5. Aramaki S, Hayakawa Y (1982) Ash-fall during the April 26, 1982 eruption of Asama volcano (in Japanese with English abstract). Bull Volcanol Soc Jpn 27:203–215Google Scholar
  6. Aramaki S, Takahashi M (1992) Geology and petrology. In: Guide book for field workshop at Asama and Kusatsu-Shirane volcanoes, Japan. IAVCEI Commission on Explosive VolcanismGoogle Scholar
  7. Bonadonna C, Ernst GGJ, Sparks RSJ (1998) Thickness variations and volume estimates of tephra fall deposits: the importance of particle Reynolds number. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 81:173–187Google Scholar
  8. Branney M, Kokelaar P (1992) A reappraisal of ignimbrite emplacement: progressive aggradation and changes from particulate to non-particulate flow during emplacement of high-grade ignimbrite. Bull Volcanol 54:504–520Google Scholar
  9. Carey SN, Sigurdsson H (1982) Influence of particle aggregation on deposition of distal tephra from May 18, 1980, eruption of Mount St Helens volcano. J Geophys Res 87:7061–7072Google Scholar
  10. Carey SN, Sigurdsson H (1989) The intensity of Plinian eruptions. Bull Volcanol 51:28–40Google Scholar
  11. Cas RAF, Wright JV (1987) Volcanic successions. Allen and Unwin, LondonGoogle Scholar
  12. Fierstein J, Nathenson M (1992) Another look at the calculation of fallout tephra volumes. Bull Volcanol 54:156–167Google Scholar
  13. Fierstein J, Houghton BF, Wilson CJN, Hildreth W (1997) Complexities of Plinian fall deposition at vent: an example from the 1912 Novarupta eruption (Alaska). J Volcanol Geotherm Res 76:215–227CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Freundt A (1998) The formation of high-grade ignimbrites, I: experiments on high- and low-concentration transport systems containing sticky particles. Bull Volcanol 59:414–435CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Freundt A Schmincke H (1995) Eruption and emplacement of a basaltic welded ignimbrite during caldera formation on Gran Canaria. Bull Volcanol 56:640–659CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hagiwara S (1986) Compilation of the historical documents on Tenmei eruption of Mt. Asama. 1. Cultural Work Promoter of Gunma Prefecture (in Japanese) pp. 1–372Google Scholar
  17. Hagiwara S (1987) Compilation of the historical documents on Tenmei eruption of Mt. Asama. 2. Cultural Work Promoter of Gunma Prefecture (in Japanese) pp. 1–384Google Scholar
  18. Hagiwara S (1988) Compilation of the historical documents on Tenmei eruption of Mt. Asama. 3. Cultural Work Promoter of Gunma Prefecture (in Japanese) pp. 1–381Google Scholar
  19. Hagiwara S (1993) Compilation of the historical documents on Tenmei eruption of Mt. Asama. 4. Cultural Work Promoter of Gunma Prefecture (in Japanese) pp. 1–343Google Scholar
  20. Hagiwara S (1995) Compilation of the historical documents on Tenmei eruption of Mt. Asama. 5. Cultural Work Promoter of Gunma Prefecture (in Japanese) pp. 1–354Google Scholar
  21. Hayakawa Y (1995) Field excursion guide to Asama volcano (in Japanese). J Geogr 104:561–571Google Scholar
  22. Heliker C, Wright TL (1992) The Pu'u 'O'o-Kupaianaha eruption of Hawaii's Kilauea volcano. Earth in Space 4(8):5–7Google Scholar
  23. Hino T, Tsuji Y (1993) Thickness distribution of tephra ejected in the 1783 Tenmei eruption of Asama volcano as revealed from old documents and its comparison with result of numerical simulation (in Japanese with English abstract). Bull Earthquake Res Inst 68:71–90Google Scholar
  24. Imai H, Mikada H (1982) The 1783 activity of Asama volcano inferred from the measurements of bulk density of tephra (pumice) and the old documents (in Japanese with English abstract). Bull Volcanol Soc Jpn 27(1):27–43Google Scholar
  25. Inoue K, Ishikawa Y, Yamada T, Yajima S, Yamakawa K (1994) Distribution and mode of the Kambara pyroclastic flow-cum-mudflow of the 1783 eruption in Asama volcano (in Japanese with English abstract). J Jpn Soc Eng Geol 35-1:12–30Google Scholar
  26. Inoue M (1998) Structure of the Onioshidashi lava flow of Asama volcano (in Japanese). Master's Thesis, Kanazawa University, KanazawaGoogle Scholar
  27. Koyaguchi T (1994) Grain-size variation of tephra derived from volcanic umbrella clouds. Bull Volcanol 56:1–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Linneman SR, Borgia A (1993) The blocky andesitic lava flows of Arenal volcano, Costa Rica. In: Kilburn CRJ, Luongo G (eds) Active lavas. University College London Press, London, pp 25–72Google Scholar
  29. Mellors RA, Sparks RSJ (1991) Spatter-rich pyroclastic flow deposits on Santorini, Greece. Bull Volcanol 53:327–342Google Scholar
  30. Minakami T (1942) On the distribution of volcanic ejecta. Part II: the distribution of Mt. Asama pumice in 1783. Bull Earthquake Res Inst 20:93–106Google Scholar
  31. Parfitt EA (1998) A study of clast size distributions, ash deposition and fragmentation in Hawaiian-style volcanic eruptions. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 84:197–208CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Parfitt EA, Wilson AL (1999) A Plinian treatment of fallout from Hawaiian lava fountains. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 88:67–75CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Pyle DM (1989) The thickness, volume and grain size of tephra fall deposits. Bull Volcanol 51:1–15Google Scholar
  34. Richter DH, Eaton JP, Murata KJ, Ault WU, Krivoy HL (1970) Chronological narrative of the 1959–60 eruption of Kilauea volcano, Hawaii. US Geol Surv Prof Pap 537-E:1–73Google Scholar
  35. Shimozuru D (1981) The structure of the ENE flank of Asama volcano determined by geophysical methods (in Japanese). In: Aramaki S (ed) Asama yama, Report of the special research on natural hazards assisted by the Ministry of Education, Japan, pp 82–87Google Scholar
  36. Sigurdsson H (2000) Volcanoes in art: 1315–1338, encyclopedia of volcanoes. Academic Press, LondonGoogle Scholar
  37. Smith RL (1960) Ash flows. Bull Geol Soc Am 71:795–842Google Scholar
  38. Sumner JM (1998) Formation of clastogenic lava flows during fissure eruption and scoria cone collapse: the 1986 eruption of Izu-Oshima volcano, eastern Japan. Bull Volcanol 60:195–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Takemoto H (2000) Paleoenvironmental change and volcanic activities in the north-western part of northern Kanto (in Japanese with English abstract). PhD Thesis, Ibaraki UniversityGoogle Scholar
  40. Turbeville BN (1992) Tephra fountaining, rheomorphism, and spatter flow during emplacement of the Pitigliano Tuffs, Latera caldera, Italy. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 53:309–327Google Scholar
  41. Valentine GA Perry FV WoldeGabriel G (2000) Field characteristics of deposits from spatter-rich pyroclastic density currents at Summer Coon volcano, Colorado. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 104:187–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Walker GPL, Self S, Wilson L (1984) Tarawera 1886, New Zealand: a basaltic Plinian fissure eruption. J Volcanol Geotherm Res 21:61–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Verhoogen J (1951) Mechanics of ash formation. Am J Sci 249:729–739Google Scholar
  44. Yasui M, Koyaguchi T (1998a) Occurrence and significance of the 1783 proximal eruptive products on the ENE flank of Asama volcano, central Japan (in Japanese with English abstract). Proc Inst Natural Sci, Nihon Univ 33:105–126Google Scholar
  45. Yasui M, Koyaguchi T (1998b) Formation of a pyroclastic cone in the 1783 Plinian eruptions of Asama volcano (in Japanese with English abstract). Bull Volcanol Soc Jpn 43:457–465Google Scholar
  46. Yasui M, Koyaguchi T, Aramaki S (1997) Plinian eruptions in the 1783 activity of Asama volcano inferred from the deposits and the old records (in Japanese with English abstract). Bull Volcanol Soc Jpn 42:281–297Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Geosystem scienceNihon UniversityTokyo 156–8550Japan
  2. 2.Earthquake Research InstituteUniversity of TokyoTokyo 113-0032Japan

Personalised recommendations