Watch the birth of a new ISLAND: Underwater volcanic eruption gives rise to a new 330ft landmass in the Pacific Ocean
Stunning aerial footage shows the explosive birth of a brand-new island in the Pacific Ocean.
The island is the result of a massive underwater volcanic eruption, which sent magma flowing into the ocean and causing massive explosions of superheated steam.
Rocks and lava were thrown 160 feet (50 m) into the air by the force of the eruption, as the magma cooled and solidified half a mile off the coast of the Japanese island of Iwo Jima.
A local news plane first spotted signs of an eruption at the southern end of the Izu-Ogasawara Trench, 750 miles (1,200 kilometers) south of Tokyo, on October 30.
Experts say the island, which is about 330 feet in diameter, will likely become permanent or even merge with nearby Iwo Jima if the eruption continues.
The new island is located 750 miles south of Tokyo just off the coast of Iwo Jima, the site of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II.
An island of black rocks and ash formed as a result of the violent explosions of an underwater volcanic eruption
Can volcanoes create new islands?
Volcanic islands are created by underwater eruptions, and are usually at the boundaries of tectonic plates, which are pieces of the Earth’s crust.
When the plates break apart, lava is released in a volcanic eruption.
As the lava cools, layers of explosive material form the foundation of the new land mass.
Layers work their way up from the sea floor to create new islands.
Scientists first realized that an eruption might occur on October 21, when volcanic tremors could be felt every two minutes.
While the new island may look small, it is part of an underwater volcano that is 25 miles (40 km) in diameter at its base and more than a mile (2 km) high.
Iwo Jima is part of a six-mile-wide (10-kilometer) cauldron, or caldera, that formed when the volcano’s summit collapsed in on itself.
The video shows volcanic eruptions spewing out huge columns of steam, ash and smoke, while a huge pool of pumice forms floating around the new island.
These explosions are known as magmatic eruptions, and are caused by seawater suddenly turning into steam when it comes into contact with molten rock.
Scientists from the University of Tokyo say magma is likely entering the water at two sites, with eruptions occurring mainly at the southern site.
“Floating pumice and discolored water occur from the entire vicinity of the island, indicating that magma is erupting from this location,” the researchers wrote in a translated statement.
A large collection of light pumice stones has accumulated around the eruption. Some of this may avoid erosion and form part of the new island
The island may become permanent if the eruption continues to cover the soft material with hard rock
Professor Setsuya Nakada of the University of Tokyo’s Earthquake Research Institute says the island may become permanent.
“At an earlier stage, a vertical jet of black, debris – solidified magma – and water flowed upward. Since November 3, the eruption has begun to change and volcanic ash has continued to be emitted explosively. Professor Nakada told The Japan Times.
Waves may wash away areas not covered by solidified lava, but if more lava erupts, it could cover the island and prevent it from eroding.
Professor Nakada says it is likely that the parts of the island already covered in lava “will remain forever.”
Frequent eruptions make Iwo Jima one of the fastest rising volcanic landmasses in the world, rising more than 3 feet each year
Iwo Jima is part of one of the most active volcanic regions in the world and lies on the “Ring of Fire” tectonic fault line.
Volcanic eruptions are so frequent that Iwo Jima rises more than 3 feet (1 m) every year, making it one of the fastest rising volcanic landmasses on Earth.
The island is also located just 37 miles (60 km) northwest of the supervolcano Fukutoku Okanaba, which caused a major underwater eruption in 2021.
The resulting explosion was so powerful that steam and gas were released 54,000 feet above sea level and was so large that it could only be safely observed by satellite.
During a nearby volcanic eruption in 2021, the sea floor rose to such an extent that “ghost ships” sunk during World War II resurfaced.
Earthquakes at Mount Suribachi led to the recovery of 24 ships after they were sunk by the United States as part of the Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945.
What is Earth’s “Ring of Fire”?
Earth’s so-called “Ring of Fire” is a horseshoe-shaped geological disaster zone that serves as a hotbed of tectonic and volcanic activity.
Nearly 90 percent of the world’s earthquakes occur in the belt, which also includes more than 450 volcanoes.
The seismic zone extends along the coast of the Pacific Ocean, where the Pacific plate rubs against other plates that form the Earth’s crust.
It goes from New Zealand to Chile, passing through the coasts of Asia and the Americas on its way.
In all, the ring forms a 25,000-mile (40,000 km) area prone to frequent earthquakes and eruptions.
The region is vulnerable to disasters because it is home to a large number of “subduction zones,” areas where tectonic plates overlap.
Earthquakes occur when these plates rub or slide under each other, and when this happens at sea it can create a tsunami.
(Tags for translation) Daily Mail