Japan Just Gained a New Island

But it's not clear how long the island spawned by volcano will last
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 9, 2023 4:17 AM CST
Undersea Volcano Gives Japan a New Island
This aerial photo shows steam billowing from the waters off Iwoto Island on Oct. 30, 2023.   (Kyodo News via AP)

An undersea volcano erupted off Japan three weeks ago, providing a rare view of the birth of a tiny new island, but experts say it may not last very long. The unnamed undersea volcano, located about half a mile off the southern coast of Iwo Jima, which Japan calls Ioto, started its latest series of eruptions on Oct. 21, the AP reports. Within 10 days, volcanic ash and rocks piled up on the shallow seabed, its tip rising above the sea surface. By early November, it became a new island about 328 feet in diameter and as high as 66 feet above the sea, according to Yuji Usui, an analyst in the Japan Meteorological Agency's volcanic division.

Volcanic activity has increased near Iwo Jima and similar undersea eruptions have occurred in recent years, but the formation of a new island is a significant development, Usui says. Volcanic activity at the site has since subsided, and the newly formed island has somewhat shrunk because its "crumbly" formation is easily washed away by waves, Usui says. He says experts are still analyzing the development, including details of the deposits. The new island could survive longer if it is made of lava or something more durable than volcanic rocks such as pumice. "We just have to see the development," he says. "But the island may not last very long."

(More Japan stories.)

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