Little Bits of History

Mount Asama

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 4, 2015
Mount Asama

Mount Asama

August 4, 1783: Mount Asama in Japan erupts. The complex volcano is located on the island of Honshū, the main island of Japan. It is the most active volcano on the island. It stands, today, at 8,425 feet above sea level. The mountain is made up of volcanic rocks dating from the Late Pleistocene to the Halocene eras. The volcano was first successfully examined via internal imaging in 2007 when the Tokyo University and Nagoya University completed their study. They were able to create images of the cavities through which lava was passing by using muons to create a map of the deep interior of the mountain. The area is closely monitored by both seismographs and video cameras placed at strategic locations. The volcano observation station on the eastern slope is run by the Tokyo University. The last eruption was in early February 2009 and there have been recorded eruptions since 685.

The eruption on this date was the culmination of a three month plinian eruption which had been throwing pumice into the air with some pyroclastic and lava flows since May 9, 1783. On this final day of chaos, Asama began throwing matter high into the air and it lasted for 15 hours. There was much ash and lava which were noted at the vent. The eruption plume ejected pumice into the air. The eruption was responsible for 1,400 deaths. But the social conditions of the time made matters much worse. This particular eruption is known as the Tenmei eruption, the name of the Japanese era lasting from April 1781 to January 1789 while emperor Kōkaku-tennō ruled. Tenmei means “dawn” and began with the new emperor’s rise to power.

Almost immediately, the new ruler was faced with problems. The Great Tenmei Famine began in 1782. The eleven year old emperor along with the established shoguns, did not put into place policies to help feed their people. Rather, they attempted to commercialize agriculture to increase tax collections (which were paid in rice). This increased the production of rice which was susceptible to cold weather. This led to food stores being depleted after years of famine and the price of rice skyrocketing. The famine became a national disaster and in one province, over 100,000 people died. Because of the famine and disease (exacerbated by malnutrition), nearly a million people died in only six years.

The disaster of this day helped to contribute to the famine. Since the volcano deposited ash and pyroclastic materials (pumice rocks) over a large area, the land became useless for farming. Most of the land in two provinces remained entirely fallow or under-producing for the next four to five years. With this unproductive land there was not enough food locally. Because of the ongoing famine, there were no reserves to be shipped in. The volcano’s aftermath is credited with another 20,000 deaths due to starvation. Isaac Titsingh used Japanese sources and wrote a book about this event which was one of the first times European readers were able to read about an Asian disaster. It was published in Paris in 1820 and in London in 1822.

The real evil with which we have to contend is not the physical evil of the Famine, but the moral evil of the selfish, perverse and turbulent character of the people. – Charles Trevelyan

Man can and must prevent the tragedy of famine in the future instead of merely trying with pious regret to salvage the human wreckage of the famine, as he has so often done in the past. – Norman Borlaug

They that die by famine die by inches. – Matthew Henry

Years of drought and famine come and years of flood and famine come, and the climate is not changed with dance, libation or prayer. – John Wesley Powell

Also on this day: Salude – In 1693, champagne was invented.
Shortcut – In 1902, a new tunnel under the River Thames opened in London.
Missing – In 2002, two girls go missing in Soham, Cambridgeshire, England.
Saturday Night – In 1821, the Saturday Evening Post was first published.
MTS Oceanos – In 1991, the Oceanos sunk.

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  1. rennydiokno2015 said, on August 4, 2015 at 9:08 am

    Reblogged this on My Blog News.

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