Areas near Tokyo await arrival of floating pumice mass

Japan Today -- Nov 16
Coastal areas surrounding Tokyo are expecting the arrival of a mass of floating pumice stone created by a huge underwater volcanic eruption in August, with the material already having blanketed dozens of fishing ports and impacted marine life in the country's southwest.

According to a supercomputer-assisted forecast by the Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology, the volcanic stones are expected to reach waters off the coasts of Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures in late November.

The stones are believed to have originated from the Fukutoku-Okanoba underwater volcano in the Ogasawara island chain in the Pacific Ocean. It erupted on Aug. 13 in one of the largest volcanic events seen anywhere in modern-day Japan.

The pumice patch has drifted in Pacific waters as predicted in the forecast. In early October, the stones began washing up in the southernmost island prefecture of Okinawa, more than 1,000 kilometers from the volcano. The stones were also spotted in the neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture.

In late October, the stones were found floating in waters off Kochi Prefecture in western Japan, roughly 1,000 kilometers northeast of Okinawa.

The pumice stones have caused major disruption to fishing and tourism in Okinawa and Kagoshima.

The floating pumice stones make it impossible for fishermen to operate as the material could interfere with the engines of their boats.

A Kyodo News reporter took underwater photos beneath the floating pumice at Shinzato fishing port in Okinawa on Monday, with the images showing the stones of various sizes forming a floating gray mass on the water's surface. ...continue reading

軽石が大量に漂着する沖縄県本部町の新里漁港で15日、共同通信記者が水中撮影をした。大小の軽石が層になって浮かび、水面下は日中でも真っ暗。港には10月から軽石が押し寄せ、漁に出られない状況が続いている。軽石は小笠原諸島の海底火山噴火で発生したとみられ、鹿児島県や伊豆大島でも確認されている。 - Kyodo