The Fukutoku-Okanoba, a huge volcano submerged under the ocean, has recently exploded; its discharge of dust and magma created a new island in the process. 

With the submarine explosion creating a spectacular mushroom of steam and ash 16 kilometers from its crater, materials from the Japanese submarine volcano breached the surface, where they hardened and remained.

The Japanese Coast Guard captured the magnificent birth of a new island, filming the part where the underwater eruption crossed the surface of the Pacific Ocean, creating violent explosions of steam from the sudden interaction of hot magma and the ocean water. It resulted in a white steam as well as jets of water and volcanic materials.

According to Volcano Discovery, an online volcano and earthquake monitoring platform, the interaction of magma with the surrounding ocean is known as a phreatomagmatic activity or a Surtseyan volcanic activity. Additionally, it noted that while the activity has decreased since the island-forming eruption, its remote location prevents continuous and more detailed observation, with only the larger fumes being detectable by the Volcanic Ash Advisor Centers.

Fukutoku-Oka-no-Ba and Minami Io To, Tokyo Metropolis, Japan
(Photo: Japan Coast Guard via Wikimedia Commons)

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A Part of a Large Volcanic Chain Under the Sea

The Fukutoku-Okanoba is a submerged part of the so-called Japanese Volcano Islands or Iwo Island belonging to the municipality of Ogasawara, south of Japan, according to the 2001 edition of the Japanese EncyclopediaThe islands in this group are all active volcanoes that stretch southward to the Marianas in a larger volcanic chain known as the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc that extends all the way down to the Philippine Sea plate. The long chain of volcanoes causes frequent earthquakes in the area.

Fukutoku-Okanoba was first recorded erupting from 1904 to 1905, which created an ephemeral island called the Shin Iwo Jima, or the 'New Sulfur Island.' The island, which rises and sinks depending on the sea level, was the first of many to be "birthed" by the submerged volcano. Other ephemeral islands were also created, with the most recent being in 1986, according to the Smithsonian Institution's Global Volcanism Program.

The volcano last erupted in 2010, and first captured by the Japanese coast guard. Its lingering effects, which lasted for days, was captured by the Advanced Land Imager onboard the NASA Earth Observing-1 satellite.

The Fukutoku-Okanoba left a trail of discolored water west of the volcano's crater, the space administration speculating whether the thick white clouds over the area are formed from the vapors of the eruption.

Submerged Volcanoes Creating Islands Overhead

The NOAA estimates that up to 80% of all eruptions on the planet take place in the ocean. As volcanoes erupt, they release accumulating layers of lava that may eventually break the surface of the water. As long as these solidified layers remain underwater, they are called seamounts. Once they start emerging above sea level, they become islands.

According to the Guinness World Records, the largest island formed by a volcano is the entire island of Iceland, which was born from various volcanic eruptions deep beneath the mid-Atlantic Ridge upon which the island sits. With an entire surface area of 39,768 square miles (103,000 square kilometers), Guinness describes Iceland as an "ocean floor exposed above the ocean surface."


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