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Volcanic eruption alerts authorities in Japan

Volcanic ash spewed from an area that had been simmering with higher than average amounts of steam in recent months.

By Elizabeth Shim
Volcanic eruption alerts authorities in Japan
Mount Hakone in Japan was closed to visitors, with restricted access, after a small volcanic eruption on Tuesday raised the alert level in the area. Photo by Suksamran1985/Shutterstock

TOKYO, June 30 (UPI) -- A minor eruption at a volcano in Mount Hakone, Japan, has placed authorities on alert and placed restrictions on access to a travel destination near Tokyo.

Japan's Meteorological Agency said on Tuesday volcanic ash spewed from an area that had been simmering with higher than average amounts of steam in recent months, The Japan Times reported.

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Mount Hakone was believed to have been dormant. According to experts, it last erupted between 700 and 800 years ago, during the late 12th or 13th century.

Japan uses a 5-point scale to indicate the seriousness of volcanic activity, and the alert level was raised Tuesday from 2 to 3 on the scale.

The increase is a warning that large volcanic blocks could drop as far as 700 meters from the area of eruption -- where a new crater may have been formed, according to experts.

The area has been banned to visitors.

China's state news agency Xinhua reported a total of ten volcanic earthquakes shook the Hakone area.

An earthquake with a magnitude of around 3.3, on the seismic intensity scale 7 had preceded the alert.

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A day earlier on Monday, a volcanic oscillation that signals subterranean movement of magma and hot water took place for five minutes in the morning.

There were a total of 140 volcanic earthquakes on Monday, but there have been no atmospheric disturbances, according to The Japan Times.

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