Science & Tech

A new island in Japan has emerged following a volcanic eruption

A new island in Japan has emerged following a volcanic eruption

Volcanic eruptions are common in the Pacific 'Ring of Fire'

Dana Stephenson//Getty Images

Japan has got a brand new island in its vicinity, thanks to to a recent volcano eruption off its south coast.

Researchers said an eruption in late October had formed the new isle off the coast of Iwo Jima, about 1,200km south of Tokyo.

The land mass forms part of the Ogasawara Islands, and consists mainly of a rocky outcrop north of the eruption site. It could get bigger if the eruption continues, according to the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo.

Setsuya Nakada, a professor emeritus of volcanology at the University of Tokyo, said magma has been erupting underwater since 21 October, and reached the surface and solidified on 30 October causing a new island to form.

He said: “In an earlier stage, a vertical jet of black colour, debris — which is a solidified magma — and water gushed upward. Since 3 November, the eruption started changing and the emission of volcanic ash continued explosively.

“The areas that don't have lava could be scraped away. So if more and more lava comes out, and covers the area, I think that part will remain forever.”

Nakasa said the island resembles another new outcrop formed in 2013, which eventually merged with another island in the Ogasawara chain.

“There is a possibility that the (new) island could merge with Iwo Jima if the eruption continues,” Nakada said.

硫黄島の沖で始まった噴火 島に軽石の丘が誕生

Japan sits in the so-called Ring of Fire, which runs through about 40,000km of the Pacific Ocean. It holds two-thirds of the volcanoes which have erupted since the last Ice Age.

The region includes the meeting place of many of the Earth’s tectonic plates, which also generates about 90 per cent of the world’s earthquakes.

All the volcanic activity has created thousands of islands around Japan, with the most recent official count coming to 6,852. However, a recount earlier this year suggested there could be more than double that, at 14,125.

Time to add another one to the list.

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