An undersea volcanic eruption on Wednesday raised a tiny, new islet some 620 miles of Tokyo, Japan.
The Japanese coast guard has confirmed the birth of the new island. The new islet is about 200 meters (660 feet) in diameter and is located just off the coast of Nishinoshima, an uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, The Associated Press reported.
The Ogasawara Islands consists of 30 islets of various sizes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. These islands were formed by underwater volcanic eruptions. These islands have never been connected to any continent and so have many native creatures. Japan's coastguard said that it has warned vessels to navigate carefully around the chain of islands as the volcano is billowing large amounts of ash and smoke. "Smoke is still rising from the volcanic island, and we issued a navigation warning to say that this island has emerged with ash falling in the area," said a spokesman for the maritime agency, AFP reported.
Earthquake experts aren't sure if the islet will withstand erosion. If it does, then Japan can hope to expand its presence in the Pacific. The country has regular territory disputes with its neighbors- China and South Korea.
"If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory," governmental spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, according to Russia Today.
Recently, Pakistan too had witnessed birth of an island from the ocean offshore of the city of Gwadar, after a 7.7 earthquake hit the country. This mound was about 20 to 40 feet (6 to 12 meters) high and 100 feet (30 m) wide. Scientists believe that the mound in Pakistan could be a mud volcano.
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Comments from Our Readers
I searched for volcanic activity forming a new island. That brought me to an article published in the UKs Daily Mail on November 21, 2013. The article included a cropped version of the same photo. It stated that the eruption started on Wednesday. That would be the 20th. The new island was off the coast of Nishino-shima, Japan. By December 2013 its land mass had merged with Nishino-shima. The new island was provisionally named Niijima. Darn, The middle of nowhere doesnt count for GPS coordinates. The best Im coming up with is in the neighborhood of 271449.67N, 1405234.13E. But that puts it about 8,000 under the sea according to Google Earth.
N.B. Too bad that Google Earth doesn't have great coverage for the Indian Ocean. If they did, they could have told us what happened to the Malaysian Airplane. - Q.- Gen.
Funny thing - I never even heard about that on the news!!
Elaine E. Hebert
N.B. - Well with all the other news - missing jetliner - Korean Ferry Capsizing, and everything else that's happened in the last year, it's not surprising they haven't broadcast a live update on the baby island. - Q. Gen.
I solved this quiz by using Google and Google Earth.
This makes me think about a recent trip we had to Kawaii, Hawaii. People there are all bound up over the presence of "non-native" species of plants. Hawaii was formed just like this island. As such, there are no native species...it was a pile of rocks and ash just like this island. Everything growing on Kawaii was came from somewhere else...brought by the tide, birds, or people over the last 500,000 years. There...off my soap box now.
Forgot to Give Name
When I was looking for the answer to this quiz, I couldn't help but think about the shoes along side the river in Budapest in a previous quiz. We could see those shoes from space but not a whole island! I guess there isn't too much to see in the middle of the Pacific, so why waste the time...but, yes, it would be wonderful if they knew where the plane was.
As usual I have a Mexican story to relate to (me and my big country!). The Paricutín Vulcano surfaced almost overnight. Within weeks it had reached its final height and died soon after. I was not born when it happened, but did visit the remains of the town and saw the church tower. This Japanese island surfacing is a very similar situation.
The name depended not only who you talked to but when. It was unnamed Nov 21.By Dec it was here to stay and needed a name. The two volcanoes are off the same seamount. The latest one may grow over it's neighbor so that all of nishino shima came from Niijima. Which then be its own Island called nishino shima.
The Hawaiian plate is moving westward and a submerged seamount is just waiting for it's time to come.
Hope you don't run into any volcanos popping up along the way, like in that LA movie. Our most famous one, Mount Saint Helens, put up quite a display on May 18, 1981. From atop the old cinder cone of Mount Tabor in Portland, Oregon you could see the several miles wide black plume of smoke and ash arising thousands of feet in the atmosphere.
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1. 20 November 2013
2. 27 degs 14 mins 49 secs N 140 degs 52 mins 28 secs E
3. It doesn't have its own name. Nishino-shima is the name of the larger island. Since the little island has joined with the larger one, convention dictates that the older name should be used for the enlarged island.
Googled "baby island volcano" and took it from there.
The coordinates were hard, since there is a much bigger island south of Tokyo that is also named Niijima and the Nat Geo article that did mention the coordinates only had them to the minute but not the second. Googled Nishino-shima in the maps and clicked on the link, that gives the exact coordinates shown above (in decimals), which is in minutes and seconds 27 20 min 32.9778 sec, 140 52 min 0.1164 sec.
Volcanic activity along the western edge of the Pacific “Ring of Fire” gave rise to a tiny island in late November 2013. Located in the Ogasawara Islands, part of the Volcano Islands arc, the new islet sits about 1,000 kilometers (600 miles) south of Tokyo in waters considered part of Japanese territory.
The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image on December 8, 2013. The water around the island is discolored by volcanic minerals and gases and by seafloor sediment stirred up by
Ongoing eruptions have caused the new island to grow, and the two islands may soon fuse into one.
The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this natural-color image of the islands on December 24, 2013. Only a narrow channel of
water appeared to separate the two. The water around the islands was discolored by volcanic minerals and gases, as well as by seafloor sediment stirred up by the ongoing eruption. A faint plume, likely steam and other volcanic gases associated with the eruption, extended away from the new island to the southeast.
Infrared imagery from the same satellite showed intense heat from the fresh lava, which was continuing to come to the surface and build the island as of December 24, 2013.
the ongoing volcanic eruption. The faint white puffs above the center and southwest portion of the island are likely steam and other volcanic gases associated with the eruption.
The new island (or “Niijima” in Japanese), rose up out of the sea during a volcanic eruption first reported on November 20, 2013. The new island sits about 500 meters from Nishino-shima, another volcanic island that last erupted and expanded in 1973–74. The two islands are located at approximately 27°14’ North latitude and 140°52’ East longitude, about 130 kilometers (80 miles) from the nearest inhabited island. In the first few days after the eruption, scientists speculated that the new island might not last. New formations like those recently formed off of Pakistan and in the Red Sea can naturally sink back below the water line as they are eroded by wave action that carries away loose sediment, mud, and tephra (volcanic rock fragments). Some subsidence can also occur from the simple weight of gravity and the cooling of the hot rock.
But according to news reports, the new island is still erupting and growing. Scientists from the Japan Meteorological Agency think the island is large enough to survive for at least several years, if not permanently. By early December, it had grown to 56,000 square meters (13.8 acres), about three times its initial size. It stands 20 to 25 meters above the sea level.
Below are two aerial photographs taken by the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) on December 1 (top) and December 13, 2013. The JCG also shot some video clips that you can see here.
Not only does the new islet that came out of a volcanic eruption seems to not be going away, it looks like it’s attaching itself to other land masses in the area. According to the Japan Coast Guard on Thursday, the islet has merged at two points with Nishino-shima, a volcanic island that is part of the Ogasawara (Bonin) chain.
Located 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo, the uninhabited island is estimated to be 10 million years old. Meanwhile, the islet has been slowly growing in mass since it was first spotted last November 20. It is now 450 meters from east to west, and 500 meters from north to south, and occupying ground space of 0.06 square miles. It also has two craters that have been erupting every 30-60 seconds. The coast guard also says it has been spewing brown smoke 100 meters high, with pale volcanic gas and ash-grey smoke coming out as well.
According to Kenji Nogami, a geology professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, “The amount of volcanic smoke has apparently grown with a continuous flow of lava.” He also said, from his vantage view on a plane, that the magma from the deep subsurface has also been increasing. During the 70s and 80s,
similar volcanic eruptions also produced islets in Japan’s territorial waters. However, they have since been submerged in the ocean once again, either totally or partially. This is why the new islet still hasn’t been officially named or claimed by the government.
Scientists believe that the islet which rose up from the waters off the coast of Japan due to a volcanic eruption last month may become a permanent fixture, at least for now. The small island, 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara island chain, has been growing since it first appeared and is now three-and-a-half times its original size as of December 4.
Islet on Japanese coast created by volcanic eruption expected to remain for several years
When it first appeared last November 24, the Japan Coast Guard said that it was still too early to tell if the island would not eventually disappear once the underwater volcanic eruption is done. But now the Japan Meteorological Agency says it looks like the island will be here for a while and will not disappear in the next few weeks or maybe even years. However they cannot give yet a clear estimate because the volcanic eruption is still ongoing and there is still the possibility that a stronger eruption can blow apart the islet. Agency official Tomoyuki Kano said that they are still seeing wisps of smoke and volcanic ash coming out of the islet and there is even lava coming out every once in a while, so it might still continue to grow.
During the 70s and 80s, similar eruptions also created small land masses, but eventually they were eaten up by the ocean. The new islet is located in uncontested waters, but due to the ongoing territorial disputes, including the one with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, several ministers made quips about the expansion of Japan’s territory because of this new development. Chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “if it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”
For more information on volcanic island formation, please see