FUKUOKA--Kyushu University’s graduate school has set up Japan’s first educational center to train expert volcanologists in light of increased volcanic activity around the nation, university officials said.

The center, which opened earlier this month, is also aimed at alleviating the shortage of experts.

Professor Hiroshi Shimizu, director of Kyushu University’s Institute of Seismology and Volcanology, mentioned the eruptions of Mount Ontakesan, Mount Sakurajima, Mount Aso and other volcanoes as a reason for establishing the educational base.

“Human resources for volcano research are thin on the ground in Japan,” he said in a news conference on March 14.

Shimizu said only about 80 scientists in Japan specialize in volcano observations and eruption forecasts, including those at universities and national research institutes. Few of them are under 40.

Kyushu University, based in this western city, has only four volcanologists, including three in their 50s, he added.

The new center will allow researchers of chemical sciences to analyze volcanic gases and enable expert physicists to use cosmic ray technologies to see through volcanic bodies. The goal is to provide a venue for comprehensive research and observations that transcend the borders of established disciplines.

The center will also work with the science ministry and the Japan Meteorological Agency.

In addition, the center plans to include on its agenda “global contribution,” which involves, for example, sending undergraduate and graduate students on tours and training programs to volcanoes overseas.