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What You Need To Know About Volcanic Ash

Author:Paul Granberg, Issue: September 2004, Topic: Safety

Early this month, Mt Asama, a volcano that straddles the border wetween Gunma and Nagano, erupted. Although the eruption posed no immediate threat to us in Ibaraki, the ash that spewed out might have. The ash plume at one stage spanned 250km (155 miles), stretching from Gunma through Tochigi-ken and Fukushima-ken (the prefectures directly North West and North of us) all the way to the coast. If the wind direction had changed, there would have been the possibility that Ibaraki would also get a dusting. We were safe this time, but there are a few things you should know about volcanic ash if this should ever happen again.

Asama-yama is a young volcano that erupts faily frequently. More information is available here: http://volcano.und.nodak.edu/vwdocs/volc_images/north_asia/asama_yama.html

There are several things you need to know about volcanic ash, and precautions that you can take.

  • If you have asthma or other respiratory ailments, the ash may iritate your condition. Surgical masks are available from most supermarkets and home stores (the Japanese use them when thay have colds) and they will be able to filter out most of the particles.
  • Ash is conductive and can cause sensitive electronic equipment to malfunction or fail. You may need to cover some equipment.
  • Cars that receive a dusting should NEVER be wiped clean. Ash particles are extremely abrasive and will damage the paintwork of your car if you do so. Use a hose and rinse it off. For the same reason, wiper blades should not be used to clear ash from windscreens as it will likely scratch the glass.

Volcanic ash can be extremely slippery when wet. If we get dusted and it rains, bear this in mind when driving.

<< Science News: September 2004 | Master Index | Re-entry Permits >>

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