Japanese Land ministry prepares for volcanic contingencies

Japanese Land ministry prepares for volcanic contingencies

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The Japanese land ministry said that it will create computerized hazard maps for evacuation and emergency plans to cover volcanic eruptions, lava flows and ash falls nationwide.

The Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry plans to draw up “real time” maps for Mount Fuji in Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures, and Mount Asama in Gunma and Nagano prefectures, within three years, giving these two large and active volcanoes top priority, ministry officials said.

According to the ministry, the maps on computer screens will draw simulated areas of lava flows and where they are expected to reach in certain time frames, and estimates of their influence on “lifeline” infrastructure, including roads, houses, electricity and gas lines.

The ministry will first develop simulation programs for the maps, based on lava flows in volcanic eruptions in the past and on current geographic features, the officials said, adding that data on the location of volcanic craters, eruption scales and types of eruption, as well as lava, will be entered in the programs.

The maps will simulate ash falls based on meteorological data, the ministry officials said.

They could be used to pinpoint residential areas threatened by possible lava flows so that local authorities can issue evacuation orders in time, according to the ministry.

Objects such as large rocks, which could pose a danger in the event of lava flows, could be cleared away with the help of the maps, the ministry said.