The 24-km-wide Aso caldera was formed during four major explosive eruptions from 300,000 to 90,000 years ago. These produced voluminous pyroclastic flows that covered much of Kyushu. The last of these, the Aso-4 eruption, produced more than 600 cu km of airfall tephra and pyroclastic-flow deposits. A group of 17 central cones was constructed in the middle of the caldera, one of which, Naka-dake, is one of Japan’s most active volcanoes. It was the location of Japan’s first documented historical eruption in 553 AD. The Naka-dake complex has remained active throughout the Holocene. Several other cones have been active during the Holocene, including the Kometsuka scoria cone as recently as about 210 AD. Historical eruptions have largely consisted of basaltic to basaltic-andesite ash emission with periodic strombolian and phreatomagmatic activity. The summit crater of Naka-dake is accessible by toll road and cable car, and is one of Kyushu’s most popular tourist destinations.
Information courtesy of the Smithsonian Institute