New Island Created From Underwater Volcano

By Douglas Helm | Published

A new island has emerged from the volcanic activity in the Pacific Ocean’s Ring of Fire. Undersea volcanic eruptions off the coast of Japan’s Ogasawara Islands, aka the Bonin Islands, have led to the formation of this new landmass. The seismic and volcanic events began on October 21 (via Science Alert).

The New Island Can Be seen Off The Coast Of Iwo Jima

Volcanologist Setsuya Nakada from the University of Tokyo described the formation of the new island as the result of a “vertical jet” of solidified magma coming from the undersea volcano that reached about the ocean waves. The continuous bursts from the eruption led to debris accumulating, including lava and pumice. This mixture of lava and pumice settled into the ocean, eventually forming a mound of rock that broke the surface. 

Around November 3, the volcanic activity from the undersea volcano switched to spewing ash. Now, the new island can be seen right off the coast of Iwo Jima, which has no permanent residents but is the site of a famous World War II battle. However, those stationed at a Japanese Self-Defense Force base can see the island, which is around one kilometer off the coast of Iwo Jima.

The Island Has Grown Over 1 Mile In Length

The new island has since grown around two kilometers, though it is likely running out of time to grow much more. While the eruption is continuing, it appears to be calming down, and Nakada mentioned that volcanic eruptions in that region typically last only around a month. This provides a small window for the island’s growth, and it’s uncertain how long the landmass will remain visible if the pumice forming it isn’t cemented by lava flows.

Any pumice not cemented down in the new island could be easily eroded away by the ever-raging ocean. However, this still provides some unique insight into the processes of how Earth’s geography changes and how land masses are formed. While this new landmass may never be a destination to visit, it’s still cool to see something new born from the depths of the Earth’s ocean.

The Ring Of Fire

While the Ring of Fire has plenty of volcanoes on land that are easily observable, the submarine volcanoes are much harder to observe. There are around a million submarine volcanoes estimated to dot the oceans of the world, but the depths of the volcanoes and the fact that many are likely extinct make them hard to observe in action. However, advancements in technology in recent decades have made it easier to observe these volcanoes and show the processes of how these new islands are formed.

How Big Will The Island Grow?

This event echoes a similar event in 2015 when a new island in the South Pacific gave scientists the chance to study these processes and capture invaluable data. However, the island disappeared after an eruption in 2022. So, when an island like this one forms off the coast of Iwo Jima, it certainly is an exciting event for the volcanic science community.

For now, we’ll just have to wait and see how much bigger this new island can get. The eruption hasn’t stopped yet, so there may be more observations to glean. In any case, it’s definitely some cool news, and it should be interesting to see how this all plays out.