Satellite images reveal rapid change to 'world's newest island'

New vision suggests the island in Japan has more than doubled in size.

A new Japanese island that formed after a volcanic eruption in early November has doubled in size, recent aerial vision has revealed.

Wild pictures were shared online soon after lava began bubbling to the surface on November 1, resulting in widespread excitement about the world's newest island. But newly released satellite imagery from the European Union reveals the story is far from over and the island now looks very different from when it first emerged from under the ocean.

While the island was reportedly just 230 metres long and and 200 metres wide at the beginning of November, new satellite data shows it is now 500 metres long.

Iwo Jima prior to the island's formation (left) and the newly formed island on November 28.
Iwo Jima prior to the island's formation (left) and the newly formed island on November 27. Source: Google Earth/SIO/NOAA/US Navy/European Union/Copernicus Sentinel-2 imagery

Formed off the coast of Iwo Jima, the island lies around 1200km south of Tokyo. It’s the first major island to be created in the country since 2013.

The clearest signs a new island was about to emerge were reports of loud bangs and debris being shot 20 metres into the sky. But there had been warnings an eruption was likely to occur, as tremors were reported as early as October 21.

Is volcanic activity a rare occurrence?

In geological terms, the islands of Japan are relatively young and the country is home to 111 active volcanoes. By comparison the Australian mainland has none.

On the other side of the world, volcanic activity in Iceland led to an entire town being evacuated this month.

The nation remains on alert, with large tremors experienced over the last 48 hours. Authorities warn there is a “persistent likelihood of an imminent eruption”.

Hundreds of earthquakes continue to shake the country every day, but experts don't believe it's likely an eruption would result in the creation of a new island like we've just seen in Japan.

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