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'Niijima' New Island Near Japan is Here to Stay for Some Years, Scientists Say

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Dec 20, 2013 06:32 AM EST
New island in Japan
An earlier photo of the new island Niijima. Smoke from an erupting undersea volcano forms a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima (top L). (Photo : REUTERS/Kyodo )

The new baby island -Niijima- that recently formed after a volcanic eruption in the Pacific "Ring of Fire" is growing, scientists have said.

Niijima, which formed in November 2013, lies about 600 miles south of Tokyo. By early December, the island grew about three times its original size to 56,000 square meters (13.8 acres). Currently, it stands at 20 to 25 meters above the sea level, according to a news release.

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The new island sits about 500 meters off the coast of Nishinoshima- another island formed after a volcanic activity. Nishinoshima last expanded during the 1970s. Both islands share the coordinates- 27°14' North latitude and 140°52' East longitude.

Niijima is located in the Ogasawara archipelago, which consists of 30 islets of various sizes scattered in the Pacific Ocean. These islands were formed by underwater volcanic eruptions.

NASA recently snapped an image of the island, showing discoloured water around the island. The murky waters might be due to the ongoing volcanic activity.

Back in November, it was speculated that the island was temporary and wouldn't last long. Pakistan too had witnessed birth of new islands along its coast. However, these islets turn out to be temporary mud volcanoes that soon sink.

But now, Japan Meteorological Agency researchers have said that the island will survive for a few more years, if not permanently.

"As the volcanic eruption is still continuing, we don't know the fate of the island," said agency official Tomoyuki Kano, told AFP."But it won't disappear in days or weeks, and will probably last for several years ... unless a huge volcanic eruption happens and blows it apart."

The emergence of the island had kick-started a new row between Japan and China over the sovereignty of islands in East China Sea, AFP reported.

"If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory," governmental spokesman Yoshihide Suga said, according to an earlier report by Russia Today.

You can see some photos and video clips about the island, here.

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