Scientists believe that the islet which rose up from the waters off the coast of Japan due to a volcanic eruption last month may become a permanent fixture, at least for now. The small island, 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara island chain, has been growing since it first appeared and is now three-and-a-half times its original size as of December 4.
When it first appeared last November 24, the Japan Coast Guard said that it was still too early to tell if the island would not eventually disappear once the underwater volcanic eruption is done. But now the Japan Meteorological Agency says it looks like the island will be here for a while and will not disappear in the next few weeks or maybe even years. However they cannot give yet a clear estimate because the volcanic eruption is still ongoing and there is still the possibility that a stronger eruption can blow apart the islet. Agency official Tomoyuki Kano said that they are still seeing wisps of smoke and volcanic ash coming out of the islet and there is even lava coming out every once in a while, so it might still continue to grow.
During the 70s and 80s, similar eruptions also created small land masses, but eventually they were eaten up by the ocean. The new islet is located in uncontested waters, but due to the ongoing territorial disputes, including the one with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands in the East China Sea, several ministers made quips about the expansion of Japan’s territory because of this new development. Chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “if it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.”
[ via France 24 ]
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