Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Volcano Grows New Island Off Japanese Coast

Science
Volcano Grows New Island Off Japanese Coast

A once-hidden Japanese volcano has been rising up out of the Pacific ocean. Thanks to new research published last month in the journal Geology, scientists now have a better understanding of how this very young island formed.

A new volcanic island was created and merged with an existing volcanic island off the coast of Japan. Photo credit: Japan Coast Guard

Nishinoshima is a volcanic island about 620 miles south of Tokyo, which was first seen erupting in 1973. According to IFLScience, it's part of a much larger underwater volcano that reaches nearly two miles high and 58 miles in circumference at its base.

In November 2013, explosive volcanic activity was reported near the island of Nishinoshima. Within a month, enough lava had flowed up to the ocean surface to create a new island 82 feet above sea level. And by the end of the year, this new island merged with Nishinoshima to create an even larger island.

IFLScience explained:

After observing the island’s birth, the authors of this new study have revealed that its formation occurred in two main stages. The first involved the sudden release of hot, broiling lava into the shallow, cold water. An envelope of steam rapidly formed along the margins of the lava, before explosively expanding into the water and dramatically propelling glassy molten blobs high into the air.

This is known as a “Surtseyan” eruption, named after the Icelandic island that formed in precisely the same way back in 1963. Within three days of discovering the island, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force noticed that the eruption style changed.

The island was now breaching the surface, and water could no longer fall into the lava-filled vent. “Dry” slugs of gas were now suddenly bursting up from the miniature mountain. This “Strombolian” eruption phase produced spectacular fire fountains, and allowed the lava to build up on the pre-existing rock.

Instead of taking a direct path from the vent of the volcano down into the sea, the lava took a far stranger route. As older lava cooled, it formed peculiar twists, bumps, tubes and grooves at the surface, so newer lava was forced down these natural helter-skelters before reaching the water and cooling.

The newly formed island is still volcanically active and continues to create new land. "In fact, since the eruption began, about 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools’ worth of lava has been produced every single day," IFLScience said.

And scientists are excited to see what life forms emerge from this "evolutionary experiment," as volcanic land is extremely hospitable to life.

Watch Earthspace101's video of the evolution of this new island:

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Nation’s First Vegan-Certified Farm Is Booming in Philly

First-of-it-Kind Supermarket Sells Expired Food, And It’s a Hit

World’s First and Only Sunglasses Made From 100% Reclaimed Fishing Nets

Humpback Whale Entangled in Illegal Gillnet Saved by Sea Shepherd Crew

David Attenborough narrates "The Year Earth Changed," premiering globally April 16 on Apple TV+. Apple

Next week marks the second Earth Day of the coronavirus pandemic. While a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions has limited our ability to explore the natural world and gather with others for its defense, it is still possible to experience the wonder and inspiration from the safety of your home.

Read More Show Less
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

For April's bookshelf we take a cue from Earth Day and step back to look at the bigger picture. It wasn't climate change that motivated people to attend the teach-ins and protests that marked that first observance in 1970; it was pollution, the destruction of wild lands and habitats, and the consequent deaths of species.

Read More Show Less
Trending
An Amazon.com Inc. worker walks past a row of vans outside a distribution facility on Feb. 2, 2021 in Hawthorne, California. PATRICK T. FALLON / AFP via Getty Images

Over the past year, Amazon has significantly expanded its warehouses in Southern California, employing residents in communities that have suffered from high unemployment rates, The Guardian reports. But a new report shows the negative environmental impacts of the boom, highlighting its impact on low-income communities of color across Southern California.

Read More Show Less
Xiulin Ruan, a Purdue University professor of mechanical engineering, holds up his lab's sample of the whitest paint on record. Purdue University / Jared Pike

Scientists at the University of Purdue have developed the whitest and coolest paint on record.

Read More Show Less

Less than three years after California governor Jerry Brown said the state would launch "our own damn satellite" to track pollution in the face of the Trump administration's climate denial, California, NASA, and a constellation of private companies, nonprofits, and foundations are teaming up to do just that.

Read More Show Less