Undersea volcano eruption gives new island to Japan

An underwater volcanic explosion that occurred 1,200 kilometers (or 745 miles) south of Tokyo resulted in the formation of a new island, which Japan was able to add to its already amazing collection of islands.

After a string of eruptions that started in October close to Iwoto island, which is a part of the Ogasawara island chain in the western Pacific, the tiny island is claimed to have developed as a result of the activity.

An associate professor at Tokyo University’s earthquake research institute named Fukashi Maeno stated that he had confirmed that phreatomagmatic eruptions, a type of explosive eruption that results from magma interacting with water, had occurred about a kilometer off the coast of Iwoto, forming a landmass that was about 100 meters in diameter. Phreatomagmatic eruptions are the result of magma interacting with water.

During the eruptions, Maeno, who flew over the site at the end of October, reported to the Kyodo news agency that columns of smoke and ash more than 50 meters high ascended every few minutes.

According to Kyodo, he also saw enormous rocks flying through the air and bands of brown pumice stones floating in the sea, the color of which had altered as a result of the eruption.

Iwoto, which was the site of one of the deadliest battles of the Pacific war and is currently one of Japan’s 111 active volcanoes, is situated in close proximity to another new island that was created as a result of an eruption in the year 2021. Iwoto island, which was once known as Iwo Jima, received its current name in 2007 after being renamed by Japanese officials.

This region is used to experiencing spectacular outbursts of volcanic activity. The Japanese meteorological office reported that similar eruptions had been seen close to Iwoto during the months of July and December of the previous year, as well as in June of this year.

According to Maeno, the recent development of the island is evidence that magmatic activity has resumed in the region. If the volcanic eruptions continue, the newly formed island may continue to enlarge and transform, but it also runs the risk of being submerged by the ocean. Erosion was the cause of the demise of islands that had been formed in the same manner in the region in 1904, 1914, and 1986.

New islands that are composed of ash and rock pieces might have a difficult time withstanding the persistent pounding that is caused by waves, but continuous volcanic activity might produce lava flows that eventually develop a surface that is tougher and more long-lasting.

In 2013, weeks of volcanic activity created an island, which then united with an existing island to produce a new landmass that for a while had a resemblance to the cartoon dog Snoopy. This new landmass was created when the two islands joined to create a new mainland.

Geographers announced earlier this year that the Japanese archipelago, which was formerly believed to consist of four main islands and over 6,000 extremely smaller and mostly deserted ones, was actually made up of twice as many islands as was previously believed. According to the department of Geospatial Information Authority of Japan, using digital mapping technology, they were able to identify a total of 14,125 islands, which is 7,273 more than they had previously imagined.

Japan is constantly expanding its island territory, but it sometimes occasionally loses islands. It is believed that the island of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima, which was situated 500 meters off the coast of Hokkaido, sank beneath the seas in 2018, without anyone noticing its disappearance.

It wasn’t until the author Hiroshi Shimizu visited the area to research for the second installment of his children’s book about Japan’s “hidden” islands that anybody realized it had vanished.

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