Two Japanese islets have now become one. A volcanic island off Tokyo has recently merged with another island according to NASA’s Earth Observatory. Nijima island seemed to have attached itself to the volcanic island Nishinoshima, whose last eruption was 40 years ago.
Last November 20, Nijima broke out of the ocean around 500 meters away from the older Nishinoshima, and around 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo. Since then it has been observed to be continuously growing in mass, and by the end of March, the two are now connected. The new island is now one kilometer in length and the highest point at 60 meters (almost 200 feet) above sea level. Because of its rapid growth, scientists believe that the island could last on the surface for a long period of time.
Many islets have been formed in the waters off Japan in the 1970s and 80s but have disappeared back into the ocean already. University of Hawaii professor and deep submarine volcanism expert Ken Rubin says, “A lot of it depends on how fast it erodes.” He added that since the island has continued to spew ash and lava since November, experts cannot conclude as to how long it may stay on the surface. “Until it shuts off, it’s too soon to tell,” Rubin noted. The newly-formed island is part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire,” which covers the coast of Chile north to Alaska and Siberia and reaches down south to New Zealand.