New island emerges after undersea volcano eruption – but its time is limited

A new island has popped up after an undersea volcano erupted off the coast of Japan, but scientists reckon it might not stick around for long.

The volcano, which is about half a mile from Iwo Jima's southern coast, started erupting on October 21 and by early November volcanic ash and rocks had piled up to form a new land mass. The island, which initially measured about 328 feet in diameter and as high as 66 feet above the sea, was confirmed by Yuji Usui, an analyst at the Japan Meteorological Agency's volcanic division.

He said that while volcanic activity near Iwo Jima has increased and similar eruptions have happened before, the formation of a new island is still pretty significant.

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However, the island has already started to shrink because its "crumbly" formation is easily washed away by waves, Usui added. He said if the island is made of lava or something more durable than volcanic rocks like pumice, it could last longer.

"We just have to see the development," the researcher said. "But the island may not last very long."

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Undersea volcanos and seismic activities have formed new islands in the past. In 2013, a new island was formed due to an eruption at Nishinoshima, a volcano in the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo. This island continued to grow over a ten-year period of volcanic activity.

Another island was formed in 2013 after massive earthquake measuring 7.7 on the Richter scale in Pakistan caused land to emerge from the seabed. In 2015, another new island was created following a month-long eruption of a submarine volcano off the coast of Tonga.

Japan, which is located on the Pacific ring of fire, is home to 111 of the world's approximately 1,500 active volcanoes, as reported by the Japan Meteorological Agency.

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