It’s been an explosive year for Japan, with 47 volcano eruptions already in 2016.
The latest, Mount Sakurajima on the island of Kyushu, spewed a 5,000-metre plume of ash into the air.
The Japanese Meteorological Agency has issued a level 3 alert and is warning people to stay away from the area.
Volcanic eruptions can cause damage hundreds of kilometres away. Volcanic ash causes aeroplane engines to fail, destroys crops, contaminates water, and damages electronics and machinery. The ash carpets the ground, burying everything, sometimes even causing buildings to collapse.
Adding to the risk, is the giant volcano’s location – just 50 kilometres from a nuclear power plant in Sendai.
Fukushima power plant only reopened in 2015, following a closure after an earthquake and tsunami in 2011.
When Sakurajima last erupted in 2013, it spewed a similar 5-kilometre high ash plume. Despite major damages, no one was injured.
Scientists estimate that more than 260,000 people have died in the past 300 years from volcanic eruptions and their aftermath.
Volcanoes tend to exist along the edges between tectonic plates, massive rock slabs that make up Earth's surface. About 90 percent of all volcanoes exist within the Ring of Fire along the edges of the Pacific Ocean.
About 1,900 volcanoes on Earth are considered active, meaning they show some level of activity and are likely to explode again. Many other volcanoes are dormant, showing no current signs of exploding but likely to become active at some point in the future. Others are considered extinct.