Countries growing bigger, it’s not something most of us are confronted with on a daily basis – a few exceptions aside, such as Iceland, which grows by 5 centimeters every year. And it’s not the only one, as it turns out. Japan has just added a new island to its extensive archipelago, following an underwater volcanic eruption.
The new territory has been developing since October and now measures about 100 meters in diameter. The formation of the land is due to phreatomagmatic eruptions, meaning the magma from an underwater volcanic eruption comes in contact with water in a rather explosive way. The new island is located about one kilometer off Iwoto, a Japanese volcano island, in the Ogasawara island chain, located in the Western Pacific.
#Japan, new #island come to life. Numerous explosive #eruptions off the coast of #Iwoto Island created a new islet in the #Pacific, 1000 km south of Tokyo on November 4, 2023. It will become a larger island..(Kazuhiro Ichikawa) little #volcano— Donato Yaakov Secchi (@doyaksec) November 8, 2023
Fukash Maeno, an associate professor at Tokyo University’s earthquake research institute, has been following the eruptions and thereby the formation of the island since the beginning. He spoke to the Kyodo news agency, mentioning plumes of smoke and ash, reaching over 50 meters in height, coming out of the ocean. The eruption causing the land formation is believed to have taken place on October 30th.
Even though the island now measures 100 meters in diameter and about 20 meters in height, this could still change. It is possible for the piece of land to grow further if eruptions continue, but it is also possible that the island will completely disappear over time. The same region has seen this before, when new landmasses appeared due to underwater volcanic eruptions in 1904, 1914 and 1986. Those same islands then disappeared again due to erosion.
Whether or not this new island will resist the years depends on the lava flow: the surface of the land is now made out of ash and rock fragments, but if the lava stream continues, a harder surface could appear, which would be more durable against erosion.