(Source: AFP) GOTENBA, Japan — Parts of Japan’s Mount Fuji could collapse if a newly-discovered fault line under the mountain shifts, a government report warned Friday.
A three-year study by seismologists discovered a previously-unknown active fault under the mountain, a Japanese national symbol and key tourist attraction located 60 miles (100km) west of Tokyo.
Yashuhiro Yoshida, director for earthquake investigation at the science ministry, said, “It’s possible that [parts of] the mountain could collapse with mudslides flowing to Gotenba.”
A team of researchers, led by academics from the University of Tokyo, fired simulated seismic waves at the mountain, which revealed a fault that was theoretically capable of generating an earthquake of up to magnitude seven.
The researchers said they believed the fault moved some time in the last million years, although it was not clear when.
Yoshida said local geography showed that Mount Fuji experienced major mudslides nearly 3,000 years ago but that more studies were required to determine how the fault could affect potential volcanic activity.
The area around the mountain, an almost-perfect volcanic cone that is much admired for its beauty, is known for having frequent earthquakes and numerous fault lines, even for quake-prone Japan.
Japan has been on heightened alert for possible quakes and other natural hazards since the 9.0 magnitude quake and the tsunami of March 2011 killed 19,000 people and sparked a nuclear emergency at a Fukushima nuclear complex.
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