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'Ash Twisters' form over Japan volcano. See them, here

Caroline Floyd

Monday, March 26, 2018, 10:48 AM - After a ten day break from significant activity, Japan's Shinmoedake volcano roared back to life on Sunday, sending a plume of smoke some 3,200 metres into the air, and a pyroclastic flow of hot gas, ash, and rocks rocketing 800 metres downhill from the peak.

Perhaps most spectacularly, observers captured images of 'ash twisters' atop the active crater. Essentially big dust devils comprised of smoke and ash emitted by the volcano, at least one of the 'ash-nadoes' rose what looked to be at least 30 metres above the volcano peak, and was caught on video by news agency NHK, as well as onlookers and webcams.

(Related: Japanese volcano featured in James Bond film rumbles to life after seven years)

Watch below: How does a dust devil form?

These volcano-top twisters form the same way garden-variety dust devils do, when heated ground causes the air above to rise and the rising air interacts with local air currents. In this case, though, the ground is super-heated by the volcano below rather than the afternoon sun.

The Japanese Meteorological Agency has issued level 3 warnings for the volcano, cautioning that the volcano should not be approached. The pyroclastic flow observed on Sunday was the first seen associated with the current series of eruptions, according to the agency. 

Shinmoedake is famous for, among other things,  having played the stand in for the villain's rocket base in the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

Sources: NHK | JMA

ICYMI: Dust devil grows before your eyes in New Zealand

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