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Japan Welcomes New Island Following Undersea Volcanic Eruption

In a spectacular display of natural forces, Japan has recently witnessed the emergence of a new island in its vast archipelago. Situated 1,200 kilometers south of Tokyo near Iwoto island, part of the Ogasawara island chain in the western Pacific, this extraordinary event unfolded through a series of undersea volcanic eruptions that commenced in October.

Fukashi Maeno, an associate professor at Tokyo University’s earthquake research institute, confirmed that the newly formed landmass, approximately 100 meters in diameter, resulted from phreatomagmatic eruptions. These explosive eruptions occur when magma interacts with water, creating a captivating display of plumes of smoke and ash, some exceeding 50 meters in height.

Maeno, who conducted a flyover of the site in late October, reported witnessing large rocks propelled through the air and bands of brown pumice stones floating in the sea. The eruption caused a noticeable change in the sea’s color, underscoring the dramatic nature of the geological event.

This newly formed island is in close proximity to Iwoto, the site of one of the Pacific War’s bloodiest battles and home to 111 active volcanoes in Japan. Iwoto itself witnessed the creation of another island in 2021 due to volcanic activity. Previously known as Iwo Jima, it was renamed by Japanese authorities in 2007.

While the region has experienced similar eruptions in recent years, Maeno sees the emergence of this new island as evidence of renewed magmatic activity in the area. The island’s future remains uncertain—it may grow larger and change shape with continued eruptions, or it could eventually disappear beneath the waves, as observed with islands formed in 1904, 1914, and 1986 due to erosion.

The challenges faced by new islands composed of ash and rock fragments include resisting constant battering by waves. However, the prospect of continued volcanic activity holds the potential for the development of more durable surfaces through lava flows.

This event adds to Japan’s ever-expanding collection of islands, as highlighted earlier this year when geographers, using digital mapping technology, identified a total of 14,125 islands—7,273 more than previously recognized. While Japan gains new territories, it is not without losses; instances such as the unnoticed disappearance of Esanbe Hanakita Kojima in 2018 serve as a reminder of the dynamic and ever-changing nature of Japan’s geological landscape.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

Source: The Guardian

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