A volcanic eruption has created a new island in the sea about 620 miles south of Tokyo.
The new islet, which is about 200 metres (660 feet) in diameter, has risen just off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, which is also known as the Bonin Islands, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.
The estimated 30 islands in the chain running 620 miles (1,000km) south of Tokyo, lie on the seismically active Pacific Plate known as the “Ring of Fire”.
The coastguard issued advice on Wednesday warning of heavy black smoke from the eruption. Television footage on Thursday showed heavy smoke, ash and rocks exploding from the crater, as steam billowed into the sky.
A volcanologist with the coastguard, Hiroshi Ito, told the FNN news network that it was possible the new island might be eroded away: “But it also could remain permanently.”
The last recorded volcanic eruptions in this areas was in the mid-1970s. Much of the volcanic activity occurs under the sea, which is thousands of metres deep at the site of the Izu-Ogasawara-Marianas Trench.
Japan’s chief cabinet secretary welcomed the news of yet another bit, however tiny, of new territory.
“This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared,” Yoshihide Suga said when asked if the government was planning on naming the new island.
“If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”
The Japanese archipelago has thousands of islands, several of which help anchor claims to wide expanses of ocean overlying potentially lucrative energy and mineral resources.
Japan has plans to build port facilities and transplant fast-growing coral fragments onto Okinotorishima, two rocky outcroppings even further south of Tokyo, to boost its claim in a territorial dispute with China.
source: Guardian UK