Open Access

Nature and origin of volcanic ash in the 2000 eruption of Usu volcano, southwestern Hokkaido, Japan

  • Kenji Nogami1Email author,
  • Jun-ichi Hirabayashi1,
  • Yuichi Nishimura2 and
  • Atsuo Suzuki2
Earth, Planets and Space201454:BF03352447

Received: 14 December 2001

Accepted: 27 September 2002

Published: 21 June 2014


Usu volcano, one of the most active volcanoes in Japan, erupted at regular intervals of ca. 30 years during the 1900s. The 2000 eruption took place on March 31 following 23 years of dormancy. An increase in seismic activity and remarkable ground deformation preceded the eruption. Many small-scale craters were successively formed in two areas at the foot of the volcano and ash was ejected intermittently from them. Ten samples out of the 2000 ash collected around the volcano during half a year were analyzed. They were depleted in SiO2 but enriched in FeO compared with the essential ejecta of the five major historic eruptions and all were highly altered as a whole. XRD analysis revealed smectite as a major clay mineral in the ash and kaolin as a minor one. The clay mineral assemblage and the trend of change in chemical composition of the 2000 ash are quite similar to those of the 1977–1978 ash. No temporal changes in chemical composition and clay mineral assemblage of the 2000 ash were detected. The percentages of the LOI and the relative proportions of SiO2 in the ashes and the essential ejecta showed a linear correlation. These results indicate that the constituents of the 2000 ash were alteration products of the volcaniclastics of the historic eruptions in the subsurface.