An undersea volcanic eruption on October 30 gave birth to a new island in the Pacific. The explosion also threw huge pieces of rock on the shores of the island of Iwo Jima, Japan, which became known from the battles that took place there during the Second World War.
An aircraft belonging to the Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun spotted the first signs of an eruption in the southern part of the Izu-Ogasawara arc, about 1,200 kilometers south of Tokyo.
The eruptions occurred every few minutes as red-hot magma hit the water beneath the surface, launching large chunks of rock more than 50 meters into the air. The eruption broke the surface of the ocean in at least two locations, researchers at the University of Tokyo report.
Rocks piled up in a spot in the sea north of the blast site near Iwo Jima form a round and rugged island so far 100 meters wide. The waters surrounding this new island have been discolored and filled with pumice, a type of highly porous rock that forms during explosive volcanic eruptions.
Underwater, volcanic material that erupts from the seabed immediately solidifies. Regular undersea eruptions in the area of Iwo Jima raise the island by about one meter per year.
The recent eruption was preceded by volcanic tremors that began on October 21 and occurred every two minutes until October 30. An underwater magma outpouring likely caused an existing mound of solidified magma to breach the surface of the water creating the new island, experts say. The eruption is ongoing and the continued addition of volcanic rock to the newly formed island could protect it from rapid erosion. It is unclear how long the latest eruption will last, but the new island could merge with Iwo Jima, scientists monitoring the phenomenon estimate.