Japan Volcano Erupts and Gives Birth to a New Island

Japan Topographic Map

Japan volcano erupted and gave birth to a new island according to earthquake experts. Located 620 miles (1,000 km) south of Tokyo, Japan, the new island is estimated to be 200 meters (660 feet) in diameter. According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the new island is just off the coast of Nishinoshima which is part of the uninhabited Ogasawara chain also known as the Bonin Islands.

The natural event is somewhat expected to happen because that area as well as the whole of Japan is sitting in what is known as the “Ring of Fire” or the seismically active Pacific Plate. As the name Ring of Fire implies, the area is home to a large concentration of volcanoes which is equivalent to 75% of the world’s active and dormant volcanoes.

Due to the recent eruption, the Japanese coastguard warned all seafarers as well as those travelling by airplanes to avoid the area. Heavy black smoke is expected to occur which can decrease visibility and the high possibility of ashes and rocks spewing into the air and interfering with mechanical engines which can lead to accidents.

A New Territory for Japan

The addition of this newly formed island to the territory of Japan has also spawned several possibilities. If the island settles down and becomes permanent Japan will be more than happy to welcome it, claim it and give it a name. The new island could then bolster Japan’s claims to the vast oceans believed to contain huge reserves of mineral resources.

As of today, Japan is engaged in territorial dispute with China over real ownership of large areas of the Pacific Ocean. The Chinese claims for themselves the whole South China Sea including the waters near Japan. With a new island in their arsenal, Japan can assert more control over the disputed area and explore it for their own purposes. They can build port facilities and other structures on the islands.

The other possibility is that the new island can also disappear as fast as it appeared. According to Yoshihide Suga, this has happened before in the past where an entire island just disappeared or eroded after appearing for a brief period of time. Based on Japanese records, the last time a volcanic eruption happened and gave birth to an island was way back in the mid-1970’s.

Volcanic Activities Deep Within

The Pacific Ring of Fire covers an area of 25,000 miles (40,000 km) extending from the coastlines of South America down to the other side of the Pacific Ocean where Australia is located. The horseshoe shape area is dotted with oceanic trenches, volcanic belts, volcanic arcs and tectonic plate boundaries.

Included in this sort of belt are the areas occupied by Tonga and New Hebrides, the Philippines, Indonesia, Kuril Islands, the Aleutians, western coast of North and South America and of course Japan. And most of these volcanic activities transpire under the sea which can be several thousands of meters deep and running along the Izu-Ogasawara-Marianas Trench. And majority of the world’s strongest earthquakes can be traced in these areas.

This is the only instance when a Japanese volcano erupts, people and governments are somewhat happy to see it happen. To them the birth of a new island represents new hope.

By Roberto I. Belda

NBC News

BBC News


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