Japanese island continues to grow, thanks to magma flow

Tokyo, July 3 (IANS/EFE) The remote Japanese island of Nishinoshima is continuing to grow a year-and-a-half after a volcano erupted on it and will continue to grow, according to a study broadcast on Friday by public radio and television broadcaster NHK.

Latest data reveals that the island, which is uninhabited, has twice the area it had before the volcanic eruption of November 20, 2013, and will probably continue growing in the short term thanks to the likely presence of undersea magma flows.

The 2013 eruption created a new island southeast of Nishinoshima that was temporarily dubbed Niijima or Shinto (meaning “new island” in Japanese).

The new island was finally left nameless after the Japanese coast guard confirmed in December 2013 that it had expanded to the point of becoming a part of Nishinoshima that has grown since then on account of fresh eruptions and magma flows.

An ongoing expedition by the coast guard, led by Tokyo Institute of Technology professor Kenji Nogami, is studying the island that is located in the Pacific Ocean some 1,000 km south of Tokyo as well as the seabed around it.

Until now, the volcanic activity on the island had only been monitored by the Japanese coast guard through images taken from airplanes or satellites.

The investigating team sent an unmanned ship to the coast of Nishinoshima to collect sea water samples from different locations.

The ph content of the samples was found to range from 7.9 to 8, which is slightly lower than that of sea water indicating that the volcanic gases had dissolved in the water and that magma was coming out from the seabed.

Both these could be a product of fresh eruptions, a sign that volcanic activity is persisting and that the island is likely to continue growing in the coming months.

According to Nogami, more data will be needed to determine why the volcano is spewing so much magma, an uncommon occurrence.

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