A new island for an archipelago that already has many. Japan, with an area of 377,975 km², has seen its territory expand recently. In fact, the Land of the Rising Sun now has an island with a diameter of about 100 meters, reports The guard passed on Slate Thursday November 9, 2023.
According to experts, this island was formed after underwater volcanic eruptions in October in the Pacific Ocean, 1,200 km south of Tokyo. It is located near Iwoto Island – better known as Iwo Jima for historical reasons but renamed by Japanese authorities in 2007 – which is part of the Ogasawara Island chain and was the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. The newly created Japanese island is currently unnamed and remains uninhabited.
Rock formation underwater
At the origin of its formation are phreatomagmatic eruptions, explains the professor at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo, Fukashi Maeno, quoted by The guard. In summary, this type of phenomenon is characterized by the interaction between the magma of a volcano and the water from hydrated soils (water levels, snowy, icy or wet soils). Debris from the eruption enters the ocean in the form of lava and then mixes with a low-density material, pumice, to form a mountain of rock tall enough to rise from the depths, details Sciences and life.
Fukashi Maeno flew over the site at the end of October. He told the news agency Kyodo that plumes of smoke and ash regularly rose into the air more than 50 meters high. According to the professor, the color of the water had changed due to the many brown pumice stones floating on the surface. Asahi shimbunone of Japan’s leading national newspapers, shared footage on its YouTube channel in early November (see below).
She could disappear
According to Fukashi Maeno, the recent formation of this islet is evidence that magmatic activity has resumed in this area. According to the specialist, the volcano could grow larger or change shape if similar eruptions continue. Other way around, it could disappear like other similar islands before it. And it is not without reason that these islands, made up of ash and rock fragments, have difficulty withstanding the permanent movements of the waves. But when volcanic activity continues over time, lava flows can eventually help form a more substantial, sturdier, and more durable surface. The fate of this new land will therefore depend on erosion and the lava flow produced by the eruptions.
Small countries are far from stable. The guard recalls that two islands were merged into one in 2013; and that conversely, in 2018 the island of Esanbe Hanakita-kojima, 500 meters off the coast of Hokkaidō, disappeared underwater. A new island had already formed near Iwoto in 2021, but also in 1904, 1914 and 1986. But these too eventually disappeared. In addition, eruptions similar to those of 2021 were observed near Iwoto between July and December last year and in June this year, according to the Japan Meteorological Agency.
The number of Japanese islands remains unclear
Japan has, according to estimates, between 6,852 and 14,125 islands (over 100 m²). As already indicated The guard and the magazine Geo in February, the first is the official figure within the Southeast Asian country’s archipelago, the second is the new count put forward by a survey by the Japan Geospatial Information Authority – more than double recorded during the last count in 1987. this figure has become eminently political and includes uninhabited islets in the China Sea that are disputed with Beijing, notes BFMTV.
The appearance of a new island is a surprising process, especially at a time when certain countries in the Pacific Ocean, such as the Tuvalu Islands, are doomed to disappear under the rising waters.