Orbital View: A Baby Island

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

From the caption for this stark view of Nishinoshima, an emerging volcanic island 940 kilometers off the coast of Tokyo:

Starting in November 2013, the volcano began to erupt and continued to do so until August 2015. This Overview was captured on 7/1/2015. Over the course of this activity, the island grew in size from .056 square kilometers to 2.3 square kilometers.

Alan posted photos of Nishinoshima back in December 2013, shortly after it started erupting for the first time in four decades. Here’s some good footage of the volcano in action. And the latest piece on Nishinoshima from The Japan Times has this priceless lede:

A brand new island emerging off the coast of Japan offers scientists a rare opportunity to study how life begins to colonize barren land — helped by rotting bird droppings and the vomit of hatchlings.