A smouldering islet created by undersea volcanic eruptions off Japan's Pacific coast has melded to a nearby island, the Japanese coast guard said Thursday.
Officials overflying the new landmass said it had merged at two points with Nishino-shima, an uninhabited volcanic island in the Ogasawara (Bonin) chain, some 1,000 kilometers south of Tokyo.
Two craters on the islet have been erupting "at an interval of 30 seconds to one minute," spewing brown smoke about 100 meters high, a coast guard statement said.
Pale volcanic gas and ash-grey smoke are also oozing out.
The islet was first spotted on Nov 20, some 200 meters from Nishino-shima.
It is now sized about 450 meters from east to west and 500 meters from north to south, with ground space measuring about 0.15 square kilometers, the statement said.
"The amount of volcanic smoke has apparently grown with a continuous flow of lava," Tokyo Institute of Technology geology professor Kenji Nogami reported from the plane. "The supply of magma from the deep subsurface is presumably increasing."
Similar eruptions in the early 1970s and mid-80s created tiny islets in Japan's territory that have since been partially or completely eaten up by the ocean.
While the new formation is in uncontested waters, its emergence comes as Tokyo is embroiled in a row with Beijing over the sovereignty of a small archipelago in the East China Sea. The sudden appearance sparked quips from ministers about the expansion of Japan's territorial waters.© (c) 2013 AFP