The newest addition to Japan’s archipelago is most likely a permanent landmass, this coming from experts as they continue to study Japan’s latest volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean. As of Nov. 24, continued volcanic activity was spotted from an observation aircraft, including the eruption of lava and debris into the air, at the site off Nishinoshima Island, 1,000 kilometers south of central Tokyo in the Ogasawara island chain.
Aboard the plane was Setsuya Nakada, a professor of volcanological studies at the Earthquake Research Institute of the University of Tokyo. “The lava flow was about 100 meters long as it made its way into the sea,” Nakada said. Lava flow usually is a good bet for the permanence of an island – once lava cools, it hardens and increases the odds that the island will remain. Some newly formed volcanic islands are eroded by the ocean and tend to slip back underneath the waters. The path of the magma appeared to be stable, according to reports from the observation plane. Since it was first spotted, the volcanic island has grown to more than 20 meters in height, around the same height as nearby Nishinoshima Island, with its highest point of 25 meters.
The island was first spotted by the Japan Coast Guard on Nov. 20, and was announced by the Japan Meteorological Agency on Nov. 21. The Japanese government is actually a little bit pleased with this situation, as one can never have more than enough territory. Chief Cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said that “if it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory.” If the island becomes permanent, it will further extend Japan’s territorial waters.