Niijima Island, a volcanic island off the coast of Japan, continues to erupt and has swallowed part of a nearby island.
NASA recorded the dramatic event from space, showing smoke from the constant eruptions, streaming away from the growing island.
The volcanic island erupted from the waters of the Philippine Sea in November. It was centered 1,600 feet from a similar feature, named Nishino Shima, which saw its last major eruption 40 years ago. That feature, better known as Rosaio Island, first emerged above the water 10,000 years ago, but the island remained relatively small until 1974.
Both of the islands were located in the Ogasawara (or Bonin) Island chain, about 600 miles south of Tokyo. This is part of the "Ring of Fire" that marks the presence of a large number of volcanoes. The area is also subject to many earthquakes, which are common in Japan.
Volcanic activity off the south-southeast coast of Nishino Shima resumed in November 2013. That activity formed Niijima soon after the eruptions began. By December, the island stretched over nearly 14 acres, and stood 60 to 80 feet above sea level. Geologists predicted the island would soon join with Nishino Shima, and the two finally met on Dec. 26.
The Landsat 8 satellite captured an image of the new island on March 30, using the operational Land Imager aboard the craft. That space-based Earth observatory was launched on Feb. 11, 2013.
"The water around the islands was discolored by volcanic minerals and gases, as well as by seafloor sediment stirred up by the ongoing eruption. A faint plume, likely steam and other volcanic gases associated with the eruption, extended away from the new island to the southeast," NASA wrote on the Earth Observatory Web page.
Currently, the new island is 3,300 feet across, and as much as 200 feet above sea level. The height of the grouping is now three times higher than it was in December. Geologists believe the island will now exist for at least the next several years, if not longer.
The volcano which created the second island is showing no signs of stopping. Now, the two islands have joined, the feature will continue to become larger for the foreseeable future.
Landsat is the longest-running program ever, aimed at obtaining satellite images of the Earth. The first of the satellites was launched in 1972, although the name Landsat was not adopted until three years later. Landsat 6, launched on Oct. 5, 1993, failed to reach orbit, marking the only failure in program history.
Stunning images of the volcanic island eruption have been released by the Japanese Coast Guard.