In a recent spectacle of nature, a newborn island has emerged off the Japanese coast, and NASA’s Landsat-9 satellite was there to capture the breathtaking moment from space. The volcanic event, which occurred at the end of October, was detected by the joint NASA/U.S. Geological Survey satellite on November 3. The island’s fiery genesis unfolded near Iwo Jima, part of the Volcano Islands archipelago in southern Japan, approximately 750 miles south of Tokyo.
According to researchers from the University of Tokyo, the island’s creation took place between 12:20 and 12:35 local time on October 30. A burst of scorching magma plunged into the ocean, causing explosive reactions that propelled rock fragments over 160 feet into the air.
The eruption, initially noted by the Japan Meteorological Agency on October 21, 2023, mirrored a previous event in 2022, indicating a resurgence of magma activity on Iwo Jima. Subsequently, underwater eruptions breached the ocean’s surface, resulting in explosive formations at the southern tip of Iwo Jima, with rocks accumulating to the north. Over time, this debris coalesced into a 330-foot wide island, situated half a mile from Iwo Jima, surrounded by discolored water containing porous pumice rock.
Pumice, a lightweight rock formed from highly water and gas-rich volcanic lava, solidifies into a porous structure as gas bubbles escape. Landsat-9, positioned 438 miles above Earth, captured this remarkable island on November 3, contrasting it with observations from October 18, when the island was absent.
Interestingly, the island’s birth wasn’t limited to the satellite’s perspective. Mainichi Shimbun, a Japanese newspaper, reported the initial stages of the underwater eruption through an aircraft in the Izu-Ogasawara arc—an oceanic trench in the western Pacific Ocean.
The University of Tokyo researchers noted that this site has experienced frequent underwater eruptions in recent years, establishing itself as one of the world’s fastest-rising caldera volcanoes. A caldera, a substantial depression formed during a volcanic eruption, marks the geological significance of this dynamic region.