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View from Mt Chibusa, Ogasawara Islands, Japan
Photograph: Shutterstock

Japan just gained a brand-new island

It's only 100 metres wide, but ‘s a sign that volcanic activity is back in the area

Liv Kelly
Written by
Liv Kelly

We might think of our land as pretty set in stone, our earth as pretty permanently formed. However, that isn’t always the case. While lots of destinations are suffering due to rising sea levels, Japan has gone the other way. 

Due to an undersea volcanic eruption, which has been bubbling away since October, a brand new island has been formed. 

According to Fukash Maeno, an associate professor at Tokyo University’s earthquake research institute, the eruptions are ‘phreatomagmatic’ – the word used to describe when magma explosively comes into contact with water.

The tiny island, which is only around 100 metres in diameter, is about one kilometre off the Iwoto, which is part of the western Pacific's Ogasawara island chain. 

Throughout October, plumes of smoke and ash were billowing more than 50 metres high, according to Maeno. He said that the island demonstrates the return of magmatic activity, and continued action from the volcano could produce lava flows that make the formation more durable. 

Iwoto is one of 111 active volcanoes in Japan, but this latest formation isn’t the only new kid on the island-chain block. In 2021, another island was formed due to an eruption. 

This news also comes after 7,000 islands were discovered earlier this year, when the Geospatial Information Authority of Japan used digital mapping tech to evaluate an area not researched since the 80s. 

Japan occasionally loses islands too, though. In 1904, 1914 and 1986, islands which were all formed in a similar way to this new one were recorded to have eroded. The world really does work in mysterious ways.

Did you see that a brand-new round-the-world luxury train route is launching next year?

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