Japan: Undersea volcano creates new island

The crescent-shaped island is believed to be made of volcanic ash and pumice stone

Celine Wadhera
Tuesday 17 August 2021 14:09
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Volcano erupts in Japan
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An undersea volcanic eruption 745 miles south of Tokyo has created a new island, scientists have said.

The new island will become the southernmost island in Japan’s Ogasawara group, approximately 31 miles south of Minami Ioto, an uninhabited island in the Pacific Ocean.

Observed from the air by the Coast Guard on 16 August, the crescent-shaped island has a diameter of around 0.62 miles.

Earlier today, the Japanese Coast Guard shared photos of the new Island via Twitter.

In a statement released by the Coast Guard, Professor Kenji Nogami, of the Volcanic Fluid Research Centre at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, said that discolouration in the water around the island indicates that active hydrothermal activity is continuing.

He added that most of the new island is thought to be formed from deposits of pumice and volcanic ash. With ocean activity and repeated lashing by waves, he said the island was likely to erode and shrink.

Undersea volcanic eruptions in Japan in 1904, 1914 and 1986 all led to the temporary formation of islands, the Coast Guard said, but all were eventually eroded and disappeared.

According to the Mainichi Shimbun newspaper, Japan’s Meteorological Agency believes that the volcanic eruption began late last week and could continue in the coming days, as it issued warnings about smoke and large deposits of ash in nearby waters.

If volcanic activity and lava flows continue with the newest island, however, it is possible that a more durable island could eventually be formed.

While the appearance of new islands can be geopolitically significant, particularly for countries like Japan, made up of more than 6,000 islands, the new island is unlikely to require changes to territorial waters and borders due to its proximity to Minami Ioto, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

There are currently 110 active volcanos across Japan, 47 of which are constantly monitored by the Meteorological Agency of Japan.

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