Japan's Newest Island Is Now Eight Times Bigger

Volcanic island merged with neighbor and resembles cartoon character Snoopy.

In this aerial image taken December 25, a new islet (bottom) is seen connected with the existing Nishino Shima island off Japan.

Japan's newest island keeps on growing, and it has now taken on a cartoonish look.

Previously called Niijima, the volcanic island that first broke above the Pacific Ocean on November 20 has merged with a neighboring uninhabited island called Nishino Shima as it continues to expand.

The small volcanic island sits about 600 miles (970 kilometers) south of Tokyo in Japanese waters, part of a chain of about 30 small islands called the Bonin Islands, or the Ogasawara chain.

The newest island is now about eight times bigger than it was when it first emerged. On November 20, it was about 1,640 feet (500 meters) off Nishino Shima, but the two islands have joined together, their growing connection marked by a narrow pool of reddish seawater.

Since the name Nishino Shima predates the newest part of the island, convention dictates sticking with that name for the combined landmass.

Regardless of the name, observers online have suggested that aerial photos of the new landmass show it resembles the outline of the classic cartoon character Snoopy.

Twitter user @etienneeshrdlu quipped: "Exactly as Nostradamus predicted. A new Snoopy-shaped island rises from the sea near Tokyo." Twitter user @astralpouch wrote: "Holy crap ... Snoopy island ... I don't care what they say I'm going over there."

The island formed from the action of an underwater volcano, which released billowing smoke, steam, ash, and rocks from an explosive crater. (Watch video.)

In November, Japanese scientists were unsure how long the island would last, as the ocean often reclaims such volcanic islets within a short time.

But last month, Japanese scientists said they expect the island to survive for at least several years, if not permanently.

According to NASA's Earth Observatory, the volcano last erupted in 1973 and 1974.

The new island mass lies about 80 miles (130 kilometers) from the nearest inhabited island. While most people in Japan live on its four large islands, the nation is actually made up of thousands of islands, some of which have been involved in territorial disputes with China.

Follow Brian Clark Howard on Twitter and Google+.