Japan’s Mount Fuji may be readying to blow

Scientists are now questioning whether Fuji, quiet for the last three centuries, might be readying to blow. Top volcano experts say Fuji has shown more signs of activity recently than it has in years, and they urge the government to set up a tighter monitoring net. Although the experts do not believe an eruption is imminent, their calls for caution were front-page news in several major newspapers Tuesday. The cause of the experts' concern is a sharp rise in the number of tiny quakes around the mountain since last autumn. Mt. Fuji, Japan's tallest mountain at 12,385 feet, normally has one or two quakes a month. But in September, that number jumped to 35, then shot up to 133 in October and 222 in November. The number dropped to 144 in December. Most of the quakes are too small to be felt. But the subterranean shifting has served as a reminder to Japanese that their majestic national symbol is also a potentially dangerous volcano, Associated Press reports. Fuji's last eruption was in 1707, when it blanketed Edo, now Tokyo, with a few inches of ash and dust.

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