Niijima, as this new island has been baptized and which literally means ‘new island’, is the product of the eruption of the well-known underwater volcano of Fukutoku-Okanoba. Volcanic activity began last week and is believed to be continuing.
The presence of this crescent-shaped island is likely only temporary. It has emerged 5 kilometers north of Minami-Iōtō, in the middle of the Nanpō islands that lie south of the Japanese archipelago. The island was formed from an eruption of Fukutoku-Okanoba, an underwater volcano that was first discovered when it erupted in 1904.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency, the underwater eruption, the volcano’s first in more than a decade, began in early August 13.
Based on its assessment of the eruption and its debris, and the possibility of more volcanic activity in the immediate future, the Japan Coast Guard has issued a navigation advisory to all ships in the area. They have warned sailors to beware of the risk of large volcanic bombs, as well as violent horizontal eruptions of gas and ash resulting from interactions between magma and water.
It is not the first time that the Japanese archipelago has new land mass additions. In 2013, for example, an eruption formed a new island that eventually merged with nearby Nishinoshima to form a single land mass.
Will Niijima survive? This will largely depend on the duration of the eruption and what kinds of rocks will cover the small land mass. If volcanic activity continues to contribute lava flows, they could provide the island with a sufficiently durable coating.