Go little island, go!

Lonely Island

Globe owners, take heed: a new island has emerged from Japanese waters.

As The New York Times reports, this new islet, located less than a mile off the shores of Iwo Jima — the infamous Japanese island that saw one of the bloodiest battles of WWII's Pacific Front — is the result of an underwater volcanic eruption that began on Oct 21. And though scientists have seen other undersea rumblings take place in the same spot in recent months, this latest eruption finally breached the ocean's surface, with new land now visible above the waves.

"Now that it's visible," Yuji Usui, a senior analyst for volcanic activity at the Japan Meteorological Agency, told the NYT, "people are paying attention."

It's a fascinating glimpse into the geological processes responsible for shaping islands throughout the Pacific — and a reminder that our Earth remains an ever-transforming cosmic body, with a dazzling array of known and unknown activity lurking beneath its surface.

"The eruptions that formed Hawaii were all before our time," James White, a professor of geology at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told the NYT. "But also, until it got up to the water's surface, we wouldn’t have seen them even if we'd been sitting above them in a Polynesian canoe."

Land Lubbers

Though the new island is currently rather puny, the eruption, as the NYT reports, is still ongoing, meaning that the fledgling isle still stands to grow in size.

"It's hard to know when it will stop," Setsuya Nakada, a professor emeritus at the Earthquake Research Institute, NYT, "but assuming the eruption continues, the island could grow higher and bigger."

According to White, it's likely that this latest eruption occurred on the "flank," as the newspaper put it, of a "parent" volcano — likely the same one that Iwo Jima itself was built on the summit of. (It's also worth noting that Iwo Jima is only one of several Japanese Volcano Islands, which, along with the Bonin Islands, form the Ogasawara Archipelago.) Still, White told the NYT, volcanoes are unpredictable, and "even as volcanologists, it's tricky to say exactly how that's working."

But before you buy a new map, there's still a chance that the island sinks back beneath the waves. Sadly, these volcanic oddities are often fleeting, made of too much ash to remain a viable structure.

Rest assured, though, in the meantime, volcanists will keep a watchful eye on the nascent isle — whether it remains above the surface, or ultimately vanishes into the Pacific.

More on new islands: A New Island Just Appeared in the Pacific Ocean

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