National Geographic News

Brian Clark Howard

National Geographic

Published November 21, 2013

Japan got just a little bit bigger this week, as a volcano created a brand new island about 600 miles (970 kilometers) south of Tokyo.

The island is about 660 feet (200 meters) in diameter, according to the Japanese coast guard. It sits off the coast of Nishinoshima, itself a small, uninhabited island in a group of about 30 islands known as the Bonin Islands, or the Ogasawara chain.

Asked by the media if the new island will soon get a name, Japanese government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga replied that officials will first wait to see how long it sticks around, since new islands have a tendency to disappear back below the waves in a short time. (Related: "How Did the Pakistan Earthquake Create a Mud Island?")

"If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory," Suga told the press.

On Thursday, the Japanese coast guard released video of the new island, forged under billowing smoke and steam. The video shows ash and rocks exploding from a crater that erupted from the sea.

A coast card volcanologist, Hiroshi Ito, told FNN news that it's unclear if the island will become permanent or get reclaimed by the sea.

Japan is an archipelago of thousands of islands, though most of the nation's people live on a few of the largest ones. Japan is well known for volcanic activity and earthquakes, and it is perched on the Ring of Fire, a fringe of coastline that surrounds much of the Pacific Ocean.

The tectonically active region includes coastal eastern Asia and long stretches of western North and South America. It is the Ring of Fire that fueled last century's big eruptions at Mount St. Helens in Washington State and Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

The volcanoes that built Japan's newest island last erupted in the mid-1970s, along the Izu-Ogasawara-Mariana Trench.

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52 comments
nancy wirick
nancy wirick

Put a nuclear power plant there. Immediately.

Jacqueline Rollman
Jacqueline Rollman

A new isle is born, i  called them "KAWAI"

I thing other isles will come near "KAWAI" and created a new chain of isles.

Shamsuddin Channa
Shamsuddin Channa

Whats with hatred against china. I just don't understand that. 

Mohamed Hatta Shaharom
Mohamed Hatta Shaharom

Last year I had the rare opportunity of ascending (with members of my family and a number of my Malaysian medical students) Anak Krakatau (born 1927-1928) the volcanic island next to Rakata (remnant of the colossal Krakatau that erupted in 1883) in the Sunda Strait of Indonesia. This recording is awesome. The birth of yet another volcanic island is surely a sign of the Almighty.

Begiek Zurekin
Begiek Zurekin

Man,das ist ja ein ding....eine neue Insel  for free   LOL....I hope it remains...

Gustavo Martinez
Gustavo Martinez

thats sounds pretty cool but lets see, because i think  we are pretty close of something  like earthquake  tsunamis and tornados i believe something is coming to our planet

Juvy Love Laguipo Lacre
Juvy Love Laguipo Lacre

what a magnificent and interesting discovery of the newly formed island..! is this the same as the mud island formed in Pakistan..? :O

Cellular Bugztronic
Cellular Bugztronic

JAPAN CANNOT CLAIM THAT ISLAND, ITS ALL OWNED BY CHINESE EVEN THE EXISTING ISLANDS CLAIMED BY CHINESE, EVERYTHING TODAY IS MADE IN CHINA...

Roland Garnett
Roland Garnett

Giant radiation leaks earthquakes and now volcanos…….whats next ….Godzilla ?

Ben Lindo
Ben Lindo

It's like formation of  krakatoa's predecessors' volcano..

Kaola C
Kaola C

I'm afraid looking at the video wondering what is happening to the world now a days. Is this the result of abusing our natural resources.

Carl Barnes
Carl Barnes

Volcanoes are so exciting and dangerous i like them you do not know what will happen with them.


Ben Sanchez
Ben Sanchez

Name  it  early.   Chinese  may  have  an  eye  on that newborn island

andrew ranigo
andrew ranigo

Check out the shock wave generated by the blast at 0:34

very awesome!


jack jack
jack jack

what's a coast card volcanologist?

A. Person
A. Person

@Cellular Bugztronic The island is in Japan, owned by Japanese authority, and is closer to Japan than CHina anyways. Therefore, China does NOT own the island. That statement is ignorant and unfounded. Japan has one of the world's best economies. Also, I'm wearing a shirt made in Nicaragua...

Roland Garnett
Roland Garnett

@Kaola C  hell no……..the planet is always changing and always has……we just don't live long enough to see much of it

jake skinner
jake skinner

@Kaola C the process in the vid is natural, it has been happening for millions of years

ayumi atongsa
ayumi atongsa

@Ben Sanchez 钓鱼岛问题,是历史问题,历史问题一般都很难判定的,每个国家都有自己的历史,在某种特殊的情况下,历史往往是为统治阶级服务的,同样一个事件,如果用两种不同的口吻来描述的话,你会发现他们都是很有道理的,仿佛谁都说的没错,这是人的一个认知方面的弱点,就像你认为这个世界是五颜六色的但从光色学的角度来看,你眼中的一切其实都是假象。而历史或者新闻媒介之类也往往善于利用这一点,这也让我想起了希特勒发动第二次世界大战的那次演讲,他发动的那次在世界看来都是非正义的战争,却在本国却得到几乎所有人的狂热的支持。

Brian Howard
Brian Howard expert

@jack jack Ha that is an unusual job. But because Japan has so much volcanic activity their coast guard service actually employes volcanologists.

Chris Bane
Chris Bane

@C. Gonzalez 
I think you need to buy a sense of humor, maybe you could pick one up made in Japan?


Bea Moeller
Bea Moeller

The language is Chinese; the writer is located on mainland China; and the last post was to the effect, "What are you suggesting was the time in the past when China claimed something wrongly?" I imagine you've worked that out yourself; what I'm wondering is why someone who clearly reads English and is posting to an English-language site has to do so in Chinese characters?

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