15:55, 3 JULY 2015 BY KARA O’NEILL mirror.co.uk
This is the first look at Japan’s newest active volcano, which has emerged from the sea in the last two years – and now measures more square miles in size than Monaco.
The Japanese Goast Guard on Thursday sent ships to survey a newly formed island some 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) south of Tokyo, which has only previously been viewed from the air.
This island, known as Nishinoshima, is slowly growing in size as the active volcanospews molten rock onto its surrounding shorelines.
Its natural expansion began in late 2013 when a previously inactive volcano nearby suddenly erupted and merged with another nearby isle.
Due to the island’s volcano activity and location far from the mainland, observations had previously been made from an airplane.
On Thursday, however, the Japanese Coast Guard were able to send a team of specialists to survey the island by boat.
It is not yet possible to land on the island as a 4km exclusion zone surrounding is still in place due its volcanic activity.
But the coast guard was able to send an unmanned boat close to the shores to collect data and check whether the island had grown.
The team also sent in a remote controlled mini-submarine to study how the new island’s underwater shores are forming.
“We haven’t been able to process all the data we gathered today, but we do have an estimate of what the land is shaped like,” Japan Coast Guard’s Taisei Morishita told reporters.
When the new island was formed less than two years ago, it was about 200 metres (656 feet) across, Japanese media reported.
The island is now as much as 2.7 square kilometers (1.6 square miles), which is bigger than the city state of Monaco, located in Southern France.
Japan, one of the world’s most seismically active nations, has suffered a recent spate of eruptions, including one that forced the evacuation of a southern island.
In September, 63 people died when a peak crowded with hikers suddenly erupted.
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