• November 10, 2023
  • Staff
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Japan witnessed the birth of a new island off Iwo Jima due to an undersea volcano’s eruption. Experts explore the island’s composition to determine how long it could last.

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In a remarkable event that unfolded three weeks ago, the eruption of an undersea volcano off the southern coast of Iwo Jima has created a new island.

Despite the awe-inspiring nature of this phenomenon, experts caution that the newfound landmass may not last long.

The unnamed undersea volcano, located roughly 1 kilometre off the coast of Iwo Jima, known as Ioto in Japan – and 1,200 kilometres south of Tokyo, erupted on October 21.

In just 10 days, volcanic ash and rocks built up on the shallow seabed, forming an island that emerged below the water’s surface.

By early November it was approximately 100 meters in diameter and had reached a height of 20 meters above sea level, according to Yuji Usui from the Japan Meteorological Agency’s volcanic division.

How long do experts think the island will last?

Two similar undersea eruptions have been documented in recent years, but the emergence of a distinct landmass is a rare occurrence.

The fragile nature of its composition, described as “crumbly” by Usui, makes it susceptible to erosion by ocean waves. Ongoing analysis by experts includes an examination of the deposits to determine exactly what it is made of.

 It is still possible that the island could survive for a more extended period if it is composed of more durable materials such as lava, as opposed to the easily weathered volcanic rocks like pumice.

Japan has 111 of the roughly 1,500 active volcanoes in the world, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency. It sits on the so-called Pacific “Ring of Fire” – a 40,000-kilometre-long chain of volcanos and seismically active sites which is home to much of the world’s volcanic and earthquake activity.

Watch the video above to learn more about Japan’s newest volcanic island.

Video editor • Joanna Adhem

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