A volcanic island located in the Pacific Ocean, far to the south of the Japanese main islands, has captured the attention of Japanese social media users for the past two years.
Nishinoshima (西之島) is located in the Ogasawara Islands, nearly 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo. The island is actually the top of a massive undersea volcano that rises up 3,000 meters from the ocean floor.
Since November 2013, volcanic eruptions have joined the two islands, increasing the overall area by four times to 2.7 km². The eruptions have created a smoking cinder cone 110 meters above sea level.
This tweet from Japan's Coordinating Committee for Earthquake Protection (GSI) shows just how much the island has grown over the past two years.
The white dotted line shows the contours of the original island. The blue line shows where volcanic eruptions created a new island in December 2013. Over time, the two islands have merged.
— 国土地理院地理地殻活動研究センター (@GSI_Research) January 8, 2016
Information about Nishinoshima's change in area have been released. An aerial photo taken by GSI on December 9, 2015 (Heisei 27), shows how the island has grown over the past two years.
The spectacular eruptions combined with the visible, rapid growth of the island has captured the imagination of the Japanese public.
A page devoted to Nishinoshima has generated more than 200,000 views and dozens of pages of updates on the Japanese social networking and meme aggregator site Matome Naver.
The eruptions over the past two years have provided some spectacular images:
— ステフ (@iri_kazu3) December 30, 2015
NHK's images of Nishinoshima are amazing!
Back in 2013, when the volcano first started erupting, a brief viral meme was generated comparing the shape of new island to Snoopy.
— てっけん / Hayato Ikeya (@tekken8810) December 26, 2013
Now that the two islands [Niijima and Nishinoshima] have merged completely to form a new island, you can see the resemblance from the air.
However, the resemblance to Snoopy was short-lived. During July and August 2014, lava flow increased, causing the island to expand rapidly to the east.
From time to time, the media would report on the area's spectacular images of volcanic eruptions.
At one point, part of the coastline collapsed into the ocean, actually reducing the size of the island.
西之島、ちょっとスリムに 火山活動一段落で溶岩減る https://t.co/fHQ94JX4C1 今後は陸と海の生物がどのように増えていくか楽しみですね。
— 海洋環境研究室@鹿児島大学 (@kaiyou_kadai) January 9, 2016
Nishinoshima looks a little slimmer following a landslide after an eruption […]. It's interesting to anticipate what kinds of plant and marine life will colonize the island.
As of December 29, the surface of Nishinoshima consists of lava flows and a striking cinder cone. It's anticipated the island will continue to grow in the years to come, although volcanic activity seems to be paused for the moment.
【西ノ島の火山活動小康状態】 海上保安庁h発表によると、２年もの間噴火し続け，約4億トン以上の溶岩を噴き出していた西之島はその活動を休止している模様だとしています。 12月22日の西之島 11月17日の西ノ島 pic.twitter.com/77pDR1PVnl
— 八坂 類 (@SAREMUNOOKA) December 29, 2015
[Nishinoshima volcanic activity to experience lull] According to the Japan Coast Guard, while the Nishinoshima cinder cones have been ejecting boulders as heavy as four tons, for the time being volcanic activity is expected to cease.