Birth of an island
December 26, 2013 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Lava flow connects new islet with Nishinoshima island A new islet formed by volcanic activity in late November in the Ogasawara island chain far south of Tokyo (halfway to Guam) has now grown and connected to neighboring Nishinoshima island. Spectacular footage of magma eruptions.

posted by KokuRyu (17 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
(...shima means "island" in Japanese...)
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:53 PM on December 26, 2013


Nishinoshima island is a perfectly acceptable translation (ie, it is not a redundancy) because, for one thing, what happens to the "no" (之) when you remove "shima" from the English gloss?
posted by KokuRyu at 12:57 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this be the death of an island, since it's now connected to another island and no longer an island in itself?
posted by The Potate at 12:58 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


so when the lava melts, it's just rock, right? Like, pumice? How long until plants will grow there?

Awesome video! I was way into lava when i was a kid (but apparently not enough to actually learn anything about it!)
posted by rebent at 1:04 PM on December 26, 2013


Death? Nah. This is just an island that totally sold out, man.
posted by brundlefly at 1:05 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't this be the death of an island, since it's now connected to another island and no longer an island in itself?

Isthmus we quibble over these details?
posted by Flashman at 1:27 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Have the Chinese claimed it yet?
posted by Mario Speedwagon at 1:35 PM on December 26, 2013 [4 favorites]


so when the lava melts, it's just rock, right? Like, pumice? How long until plants will grow there?

It depends. Plant colonization of lava fields has been extensively studied in Hawaii (as one can imagine). Here's a chapter of a book I found; it depends on the climate (dry vs wet, cool vs hot) and lava type - lichens and mosses like 'a'a (the sharp, spikey, ouchy kind) a lot; ferns and friends like pahoehoe (the rope-like stuff). There are lots of variables, but it can take as little as six months after the flow stops.
posted by rtha at 1:35 PM on December 26, 2013


so when the lava melts, it's just rock, right?

When lava cools it turns into rock (igneous rock); in this case, probably basalt. Pumice is a type of volcanic rock that comes from explosive volcanoes (like Mt St Helens was), it is basically full of air bubbles, like solidified foam.
posted by DoubleLune at 2:12 PM on December 26, 2013


So here's a question: is this technically one island while there is an un-solidified lava flow between the main island and the lava flow? It's two land-masses divided by a liquid... even though that liquid is molten rock-forming elements, it's still a liquid...
posted by DoubleLune at 2:21 PM on December 26, 2013


Have the Chinese claimed it yet?

They don't need to -- it's well-known that the navigation maps of Zheng He contain a stain in this general area, demonstrating that this "new" eruption was discovered centuries ago, is historically Chinese and thus an indivisible component of the ancestral land.
posted by aramaic at 2:30 PM on December 26, 2013 [5 favorites]


It's all part of the same seamount. The original Nishinoshima Island is a volcanic seamount rising up several thousand meters from the ocean floor; this "New Island" was created as part of a volcanic vent on the slope (below the ocean surface) of the Nishinoshima sea mount.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:30 PM on December 26, 2013


Sometimes volcanoes can leave behind features that resist plants for a long time even in places that normally support fairly abundant growth-- such as the pumice desert in Oregon:
The Pumice Desert shown above can easily be seen on Crater Lake Highway about 3.5 mi (5.6 km) north of the lake as the crow flies. This geologic feature, like Crater Lake itself, is the result of the massive eruptions of Mount Mazama approximately 7,700 years ago. When driving past the Pumice Desert, it’s hard to comprehend the depth of the pumice, which can reach more than 100 ft (30 m). Because this desert has so little organic matter, the landscape only occasionally provides enough nutrients for plant life. As a result, the soil has never been ameliorated by composting organic matter.
I'm not sure I understand that explanation though, I would have thought it had to do with too-efficient drainage through such a thick layer of pumice.

Earth Observatory offers a couple of nice views of Niijima from space, one as an islet taken in mid-December and one from a couple of days ago as it connects to Nishinoshima.
posted by jamjam at 2:47 PM on December 26, 2013 [1 favorite]


Holy smokes, wish Seattle had one of these to keep us locals amused. Perfect site an IRL meet up.
posted by artof.mulata at 1:54 AM on December 27, 2013


Holy smokes, wish Seattle had one of these to keep us locals amused. Perfect site an IRL meet up.

I believe Mount Rainier and Mount Baker (due east from where I am banging on the keyboard) are both technically active volcanoes, so...
posted by KokuRyu at 10:52 AM on December 27, 2013


Well, yeah, they are "active," but they're not birthing us any islands, are they?
posted by artof.mulata at 8:17 PM on December 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


The new island combination has a new name ... Snoopy Island!
posted by woodblock100 at 5:31 AM on December 30, 2013 [1 favorite]


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