The brand new island was formed directly above the site where the eruption took place. It has a diameter of about 100 meters and consists mainly of large boulders.

Nowadays we regularly hear that islands are in danger of disappearing. But sometimes one suddenly comes along. That’s exactly what recently happened off the coast of Japan. An underwater volcano erupted here at the end of October. And voilà, a brand new island was born.

Volcanic eruption
The undersea volcano had been rumbling for some time, but on October 30 it reached an all-time high. A huge explosion took place, occasionally throwing boulders several meters in size into the air. The height of the vertical jet, consisting of solidified magma, is estimated at more than 50 meters. The scene was watched from the air by a small plane flying over every day. In addition, images also show floating pumice stone and water that has changed color.

New island
An island with a diameter of approximately 100 meters was subsequently created directly above the site of the eruption. It consists mainly of boulders. It is remarkable that no clear crater structure is visible on the surface. At this moment, plumes of smoke are still rising above the newly formed island (click here for photos).

Two outbursts
Due to the circular structure and the appearance of floating pumice and colored water along the edge of the island, experts suspect that two eruptions probably occurred in two different places. One crater ejected magma and water vapor, while another vent spewed out boulders, ultimately creating the island.

Iwo Jima
This new landmass is directly within sight of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima, which you may know from World War II. This island was the scene of an infamous battle between American and Japanese forces almost eighty years ago. There are many fumaroles and vents on the island where small eruptions, especially steam eruptions, occur regularly.

Multiple outbursts
Japan is no stranger to undersea volcanoes. The so-called ‘Ring of Fire’ runs off the coast of the country. This is an area known for volcanic eruptions and earthquakes. In recent years, several eruptions have occurred in the sea southeast of Iwo Jima. However, in July 2022, something unique happened: for the first time, an explosion of magma and water vapor occurred, during which magma was actually spewed above the waves. Later, in June 2023, a second eruption occurred, followed by more activity in October. The location of the most recent eruption is almost identical to that of the 2022 eruption, indicating that the same submarine volcano is active again.

Rare
It is quite special that this turbulent eruption created an island. The creation of new islands does not happen too often. It is a geological process that usually accompanies volcanic activity, such as submarine volcanic eruptions or tectonic shifts. These events are not commonplace, so the formation of new islands is a relatively rare phenomenon on Earth. Yet it is not the first time that a new island has risen from the sea in Japan. It was created by a volcanic eruption also a new island in November 2013 in the western Pacific Ocean. That island, which formed off the coast of Nishinoshima Island, was about 200 meters wide.

To disappear
It is still uncertain how long the new island will last. The new piece of land may become larger in the coming days, but it is currently doubtful whether the island will be permanent. It is possible that the boulders will be washed away and the land mass will eventually disappear under the waves again.

Anyway, at least Japan has an island for now. The island adds to the country’s already impressive collection. Japan consists of thousands of islands, of which only a fraction is inhabited. Most people live in the largest four: Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. The much smaller specimens are mainly uninhabited due to their remoteness, limited resources or geological features.




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