Meet Niijima, The Latest Addition To Planet Earth

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On November 21st, Japanese Coast Guards released photos of a brand new island created by an eruption of an underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean, about a thousand kilometers south of the country's capital, Tokyo. While exciting, it received a somewhat lukewarm reception, given that most such islands tend to disappear within a short period of time. However now it seems that the volcanic landmass that has been called Niijima, may be here to stay!

The earth's latest baby is a mere 13.8 acres and rises just 60 to 80 feet about the ocean waters. It lies adjacent to Nishino-Shima, a larger landmass that was also created by an eruption in the Izu-Bonin-Mariana arc system in 1973-74.

The arc that extends 2,800 km all the way from south of Tokyo to beyond Guam, lies along the western edge of the Pacific 'Ring Of Fire' - a region where 90% of the world's earthquakes occur.

Niijima is so young that the thin puffs of smoke and volcanic ash can still be seen spewing up. This is good news to scientists because it indicates that the islet is still growing and may last longer than those recently formed near Pakistan and the Red Sea, which simply eroded away after a short time.

So will Niijima be making an appearance in the world atlas anytime soon? Probably not. That's because the Japanese meteorological agency predicts it will probably last just a few years and that is only if a massive volcano eruption doesn't blow it apart before that. We sure hope not!

Resources: earthobservatory.NASA.gov, latimes.com

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