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26日は、19日と別の場所で2回目の噴火がありました。
On the 26th there was a second eruption in a place different from the 19th.
しかし、26日に噴火が起こったは、頂上から西側に500mぐらいのでした。
However, the place where the eruption occurred on the 26th was around 500m to the west of the summit.

For along time now I've been happily reading both 場所 and 所 as 'place' without thinking about the difference. Are they interchangeable or is there a deeper reason for using different words in the above text?

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The difference between 場所 and 所 can be quite subtle when talking about an actual place. 場所 is a bit more formal than 所, but many people do not distinguish them very much and will use both to vary the language a bit.

遺跡が発見された場所 = place where the ruins were found

会議の時間と場所を決める = set the time and place for the meeting

国が所有している場所 = government-owned land

駅から5分くらいの所に住んでいる = live five minutes from the station

彼氏の背中のかゆい所をかく = scratch the boyfriend's itchy spot in the back

One difference between 場所 and 所 is that 場所 always refers to a place in the literal sense, but 所/ところ can also be used for more abstract things. In modern Japanese, it is usual to write it in hiragana when using it in the abstract sense.

今やっているところです = (I am) doing it now

今日のところは許してやる = I will forgive you for today

勉強が終わったところです = I just finished my homework

それは政府の関知するところではない = that is none of the government's business

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There is a subtle difference between 所 and 場所. 26日は、19日と別の場所で2回目の噴火がありました。 sounds more formal than 26日は、19日と別の所で2回目の噴火がありました。 . But it's very very subtle difference.When I emphasize ""place"", I may use "場所". For example, when news reporters report where murder occur,they may say like 殺人事件が起きた”場所”はこちらの~(But 所 is also used... So very subtle...). By the way, second phrase contans 所 two times in one sentence, and it seems little strange(It looks like 頭痛で頭が痛い).

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