Heading to the store? Don’t forget your gas mask. Despite the high level of volcanic activity that causes poisonous gas to leak from the earth and in 2000 forced 3,600 residents to evacuate the island of Miyakejima, Japan, some island denizens just can’t stay away.
Resting atop a chain of volcanoes, Miyakejima is a hub for volcanic activity. Over the past century, the volcanoes have erupted six times. The worst of these occurred in June 2000 when, after a repose of 17 years, Mount Oyama erupted. 17,500 earthquakes followed the eruption, which hit the island between June 26 and July 21.
During the assault of eruptions and earthquakes, ash plumes soaring 10 miles high enveloped Miyakejima, and heavy ash fell as craters collapsed. Later, high levels of toxic sulfur dioxide would regularly rise up through the ground, making 20 percent of the land uninhabitable. After three months, the government took action and forced a mass evacuation in September.