Guest Video: The People Who Live on Sakurajima

That facility above — the Sakurajima Volcanic Sabo Center — is the sort of thing we expect to find on Japan’s most active volcano (how active? See the pinned post at the top of the blog and links that it contains).

Besides telling this Decade Volcano’s story and serving as an evacuation shelter when needed, the center focuses on volcanic mudflow (lahar) control structures called “sabo dams.

What we do not expect to find on this frequently explosive volcano are the many human stories that Sakurajima’s residents shared in this video that was uploaded a year ago.

More on sabo dams, lahars, and Decade Volcanoes

This post also, I hope, will serve as a tie-in to the next and final Decade Volcano blog post/revised eBook chapter, coming as soon as I can finish it.

That Indonesian Decade Volcano is loaded with sabo dams (many of which were built in collaboration with Japan).

Sometimes the sabo dams win, even when conditions aren’t this tranquil:

Sometimes — say, a few months after a VEI 4 eruption in a tropical monsoon climate — the volcano wins (by filling in the holding area behind sabo dams, or simply destroying the dam, and sending its huge mudflows into unprotected areas, per Lavigne et al.):

I can’t read Indonesian, but based on the word “banjir” in the above video’s introduction — also used by Lavigne et al. (source list) — this is actually the tail end of a denser lahar that has already dumped most of its load of pyroclastic and other sediments farther upstream.

It probably went overbank and is cutting a new channel for future lahars.

These people, like many others during that terrible rainy season, had no idea they were in harm’s way, but they responded quickly and appropriately to the unexpected trouble.

The man with a walkie-talkie is probably part of the civilian watch/warning/rescue group that was so effective, per Lavigne et al., here and elsewhere around the volcano, that a total of only three lives were lost to those lahars (and two of those were sand miners who went into the hazard zone intentionally).

Thousands live on Japan’s Sakurajima; more than a million people live and work on this Indonesian volcano, which is a beast.

It’s also difficult to write up, but hopefully, that will be done in the next week.

As always, thank you for your interest!

Featured image: Tokyo-Good via Wikimedia, CC BY-SA 4.0.


Lavigne, F.; Thouret, J. C.; Voight, B.; Suwa, H.; and Sumaryono, A. 2000. Lahars at Merapi volcano, Central Java: an overview. Journal of Volcanology and Geothermal Research, 100(1-4): 423-456.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.