Japan Celebrates the Spectacular Images of a Volcanic Island Being Born

Nishinoshima, October 2015

(Caption reads, from left to right) Video: Japan Coast Guard. Breaking: Latest footage of Nishinoshima eruptions. Cinder cone keeps growing, new beach created, too. October 2015. ANN News official YouTube channel.

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.

Location of Nishinoshima Island. Image from <a href=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.


NASA image of a new island (initially called “Niijima”) in December 2013. Ongoing eruptions would quickly merge Niijima with nearby Nishinoshima. (Map orientation: north is up.)

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.

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:

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.

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.

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.

[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.

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