Back in November, volcanic activity along the western edge of the Pacific "Ring of Fire" gave rise to a tiny new island in Japanese territory. According to new reports, the island — named Niijima — is still erupting and growing.
Niijima is located about 600 miles (1,000 km) south of Tokyo and sits about 80 miles (130 km) from the nearest inhabited landmass. It first emerged on November 20th, and is situated about 500 meters from Nishino-shima, another volcanic island that hasn't shown any activity since 1973-74.
NASA's EO-1 satellite captured an image back on December 8th showing discolored water around the island caused by volcanic minerals and gases, and by the seafloor sediment churned up by ongoing volcanic activity.
Initially, it was thought that Niijima might not last. New islets, like the one that recently formed off the coast of Pakistan, often sink back below the water line as they're eroded by the elements. But as scientists from the Japan Meteorological Agency have reported, Niijima is still growing — and it may last for at least several years, if not permanently. Currently, Niijima is 56,000 square meters (13.8 acres) — about three times its initial size — and it stands 20 to 25 meters above the sea level.
[ Nasa's Earth Observatory, including images ]