The World's Newest Island, Niijima

Where there once was no land, now there is.
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Niijima (NASA)

The Earth is geologically dynamic. Mountains and oceans are created and destroyed over millions of years. Almost nothing is permanent on the face of the planet.

In a human lifespan, it's easy to ignore this reality. That is, until a volcano creates a new island.

In late November, a few days before Thanksgiving, an eruption began in the Pacific Ocean about 600 miles south of Tokyo in the Ogasawara Islands. Over the last few weeks, an island has formed at the volcanic site. People are calling the new land mass Niijima. 

The island has an area of about 14 acres and it continues to grow. NASA's Earth Observatory released new images of it today

Sometimes, these newly formed islands don't last. They erode away, or the sea floor sinks as the weight of the landmass piles up. But early signs are that Niijima will stick around, at least long enough for us to forget that it once never was. 

Niijima and friend (NASA)

 

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Alexis C. Madrigal

Alexis Madrigal is the deputy editor of TheAtlantic.com, where he also oversees the Technology Channel. He's the author of Powering the Dream: The History and Promise of Green Technology. More

The New York Observer has called Madrigal "for all intents and purposes, the perfect modern reporter." He co-founded Longshot magazine, a high-speed media experiment that garnered attention from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and the BBC. While at Wired.com, he built Wired Science into one of the most popular blogs in the world. The site was nominated for best magazine blog by the MPA and best science Web site in the 2009 Webby Awards. He also co-founded Haiti ReWired, a groundbreaking community dedicated to the discussion of technology, infrastructure, and the future of Haiti.

He's spoken at Stanford, CalTech, Berkeley, SXSW, E3, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and his writing was anthologized in Best Technology Writing 2010 (Yale University Press).

Madrigal is a visiting scholar at the University of California at Berkeley's Office for the History of Science and Technology. Born in Mexico City, he grew up in the exurbs north of Portland, Oregon, and now lives in Oakland.

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