Nishinoshima: Japan’s Remarkable Island

The Nishinoshima Volcano

Hugh Baldwin

The Nishinoshima Volcano, south of Japan’s coast, has been on a rampage. After nearly doubling in size over the past eight years, the active volcano has caught the attention of many.

To understand the significance of this growth, we need to go back to 1973, when the original island merged with a newly-formed island in an eruption, creating the roughly 2 square-kilometer island over the course of ten months. 

Nishinoshima Island in 1974 (Getty Images)

That island stood dormant for about 40 years, before a late 2013 eruption formed yet another island off the southern coast, beginning the process of reshaping the island. Within about a month, the new island had coalesced with Nishinoshima, and after several years—and a couple of minor eruptions—the conjoined islands had reached a size of 2.9 square kilometers in mid-2017.

In 2019, after a short period of silence, the volcano started up once again, continuing through late 2020. After seven years of eruptions, the island had reached 3.9 square kilometers, which is nearly double its size in 2013. The last reported eruption occurred in August 2021, but there are no new reports on the size.

Interested in how the island continues to expand? You can look for updates of the historic growth of Nishinoshima through reports from the Japan Coast Guard, Japan Meteorological Agency, and from other credible news sources, like NASA’s Earth Observatory.


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