Fortunately for residents of Japan and the rest of the world, the smoke and ashes rising from the floor of the Pacific Ocean approximately 620 miles south of Tokyo on Wednesday were not the signs of Godzilla or any other kaiju rising from the depths of the ocean. Instead of having to face down a terrifying amphibious monster, Japan is welcoming its first potential new island to develop since the 1970's.
Wednesday morning the Japanese Coast Guard alerted the Japanese mainland of smoke rising from the ocean near the Ogasawara Islands chain, an archipelago also known as the Bonin Islands, a group which also includes the famous island of Iwo Jima.
As it currently stands (or floats...), the island is approximately 650 feet wide and 980 feet long. Despite its present small-size, scientists believe this island has the potential to be a grower and not a shower: "Smoke is still rising from the volcanic island, and we issued a navigation warning to say that this island has emerged with ash falling in the area," stated the Coast Guard.
However, Japan is not ready to name the island just yet. "This has happened before and in some cases the islands disappeared," reported Yoshihide Suga, the Minister of Internal Affairs and Communications for Japan.
Darcy Ogden, volcanologist and professor at University of California San Diego (UCSD) also cautioned against claiming this land-mass as an island just yet: “It’s a matter of if it’s going to break apart. It’s made of a big pile of rocks. If they aren’t stuck together very well they will erode and break down.”
Despite his concerns as to whether or not the island will be permanent, Suga and other members of the Japanese government have voiced their desire to annex the island: "If it becomes a full-fledged island, we would be happy to have more territory."
There is more at play than what just rests on the surface with this island. For years, China and Japan have contested territorial claims to waters residing in the East China Sea. If this island becomes a permanent fixture in the archipelago, Japan's territorial claims will grow and thus it will be able to expand its influence into the East China Sea, a water-source full of access to important energy resources.
And if it is Godzilla or another kaiju, at least we have the Jaegers (mech-warriors from the movie Pacific Rim) to protect us.[Image via YouTube]