Category Archives: Geology

City Workers Don’t Know How to Cut Grass

In Japan, grass isn’t a very common thing in yards. There are parks with grass, but most of them are covered in dirt and concrete with flower beds. Any grass tends to either be left to grow very tall or cut down too short.

Take this picture, for example.


This is next to the park near our home. It was once covered with grass, but now seems to be bare soil. The city workers cut the grass so short that they were cutting into the soil. It’s as if they were intending to kill the grass. But you can see the effects easily. Clumps of soil have fallen out and the slope is beginning to collapse. At the top is a playground. If they destabilise the ground even more, a heavy rain storm could cause a minor landslide. All because they cut the grass so much that it’s nearly all gone. Don’t they know anything about the stabilising effects of grass roots?

Unfortunately, I see this all over the place. These workers are not landscapers or gardeners, that’s for sure. They have no clue what to do with grass.

Mount Hakone Volcanic Activity

The popular hot spring resort town Hakone, here in Kanagawa Prefecture, is having quite the spectacle at the moment. The Owakudani area, which is known for its steam vents and black eggs (a local delicacy), is the centre of the activity.  A phreatic explosion is possible, meaning a small eruption. There have been many small earthquakes every day, more than one hundred per day.

Owakudani from the tram. Notice the steam. This photo is showing normal activity.
Owakudani from the tram. Notice the steam. This photo is showing normal activity.

If there is an eruption, it’ll likely only affect a small localised area. My guess is that the town of Hakone will be okay, but Owakudani will be inaccessible for quite some time.

From where I live, I can see Mount Hakone. It’s much smaller than the nearby Mount Fuji, which everyone is expecting a large eruption from sometime in the future (that would be devastating for the Tokyo area most likely).  I’ve been asked many times if I’m in any danger.  I would say that no, it’s extremely unlikely I’d be in danger here.  A major eruption is not expected. However, I’m hoping the volcano settles down, because we have a possible plan to visit Hakone in October. We’ll see.

Deadly Eruption at Mount Ontake

Mt. Ontake.  Looks beautiful, doesn't it?
Mt. Ontake. Looks beautiful, doesn’t it?

Such a tranquil-looking mountain isn’t it?  Well, Mt. Ontake is Japan’s second tallest volcano, and it erupted on Saturday.  There were around 300 people on the mountain at the time, and 31 are suspected to be dead, as there were many at the summit around the caldera during the eruption.

I live around 190 km from the mountain (Tokyo is 200 km from it), which is on the border of Nagano and Gifu prefectures.  At 3,067 metres tall, it’s a fairly tall stratovolcano with a somewhat frequent history of eruptions.  It’s interesting that it’s often climbed considering how often it does erupt.

Another volcano, at 3,776 metres, is Mt. Fuji.  It’s visible from my area, and is the tallest mountain in Japan.  It occasionally has earthquakes around it, and in recent years, the lakes around it have been getting a bit warmer.  There are worries about an eruption from Mt. Fuji, which is quite possible in the coming years.  It’s probably inevitable.  The last time it erupted was in 1708, and it dumped a lot of ash on Edo (modern name is Tokyo), causing many fires.  If it erupts today, the entire region will be shut down.  Planes can’t get in, trains are stopped, all transportation will stop.  No supplies, no food, no fuel, and the water system may be contaminated.  Sounds pretty bleak.  It would devastate Japan’s economy, as it would almost completely shut down Tokyo.

So, what were the effects of Mt. Ontake on the Tokyo area?  Nothing, really.  So, everyone, I’m fine.  Don’t worry.


It’s been three years since the earthquake and tsunami in the Tohoku region of Japan. I got to experience it firsthand. It was a shocking event, and it’s something I will never forget for the rest of my life. Please read all about my experience. Comments are very welcome.

Jay Dee in Japan

It’s the third anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake and tsunami of 2011.  Hard to believe it’s been that long.  I remember that day very well as if it were less than a year ago.  I’m going to go back in time and show you my posts after this event.

On the day of the earthquake, I posted this short post, letting people know I was fine.  The next day, I posted this quick update. On March 13th, I posted this long account of my day. If you read any of these posts, that’s the one to read.  At the time, I was still doing my first Picture of the Week series, and I posted a picture of the supermarket shelves.  On March 16th, there was an earthquake at Mt. Fuji.

After the earthquake, there was a lot of media attention, much of it about…

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Daily Prompt: Back to School

WordPress’s Daily Prompt today is this: If you could take a break from your life and go back to school to master a subject, what would it be?

My simple answer: Geology

As many of my readers may know, I studied physics and astronomy in university, mostly because of my fascination and obsession with space and planets.  No wonder I’m writing a science fiction novel.  In my first year, I took two classes of introductory geology and enjoyed it thoroughly.  You see, my second choice of subjects to study was palaeontology.  My dinosaur interest was my reason for this choice. But the planets won.

Now, I often think, what if I’d studied only one planet, Earth?  It would’ve been very useful for studying other planets, such as Mars.  I realised that my interest in space was mostly the planets.  After I studied geology and went through most of my university career, I started developing the world I created for my science fiction novels, which is now known as Ariadne.  While astronomy certainly helped me with some of the planning, geology was what helped me create the world and give it a more realistic look.  It seems like a perfect match.

My home province of Alberta in Canada is very well-known for dinosaurs, the Rocky Mountains, and oil.  All three are related to geology.  My adopted country of Japan is a great place to examine seismology and vulcanology (or volcanology, however you want to spell it.  I prefer vulcanology because of a certain group of logical aliens.  But that’s the geek in me speaking). In fact, I have climbed Mt. Fuji almost 8 years ago.  What a wonderful place to look down at the rocks, or even inside the volcano.

One of my most memorable moments was looking inside the gaping maw of Mt. Fuji's crater.
One of my most memorable moments was looking inside the gaping maw of Mt. Fuji’s crater.

As an added bonus, my astronomy and geology interests met in a rather peculiar way.  As I was descending the mountain, I realised that the colour of Mt. Fuji was reminiscent of Mars.  Even the photos I took looked somewhat like Mars.

This is not Mars!
This is not Mars!

It would be absolutely fascinating to study this mountain, especially with the rumblings going on in geological circles saying that an eruption is imminent. But I don’t want it to erupt.  I live a bit too near it.

Space is very interesting, but I love planets.  Geology would bring me closer to understanding Earth, as well as other rocky planets, and help me make my created world even more amazing.