Japan officials fear volcanic island could cause tsunami

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Japan officials fear volcanic island could cause tsunami
Smoke from an erupting undersea volcano forms a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small uninhabited island, in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands in this November 21, 2013 picture provided by Kyodo. Japan added another small area to its territory on Wednesday after the undersea volcano eruption in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands led to the birth of a small new one. (Photo: Kyodo/Corbis)
Smoke from an erupting undersea volcano forms a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small uninhabited island, in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands in this November 21, 2013 picture provided by Kyodo. Japan added another small area to its territory on Wednesday after the undersea volcano eruption in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands led to the birth of a small new one.
Smoke from an erupting undersea volcano forms a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, a small uninhabited island, in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands in this November 21, 2013 picture provided by Kyodo. Japan added another small area to its territory on Wednesday after the undersea volcano eruption in the southern Ogasawara chain of islands led to the birth of a small new one.
OGASAWARA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 25: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this aerial image, volcanic eruption continues at a new islet, which is now connected with Nishinoshima island on December 25, 2013 in Ogasawara, Tokyo, Japan. With the new islet merging with the existing Nishinoshima island, there is little possibility it will be named as a separate entity. Thus, it will be considered a part of Nishinoshima island. The island was about 500 meters off Nishinoshima island when it was first spotted on November 20 by the coast guard. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
OGASAWARA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 25: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this aerial image, a new islet (bottom) is seen connected with Nishinoshima island on December 25, 2013 in Ogasawara, Tokyo, Japan. With the new islet merging with the existing Nishinoshima island, there is little possibility it will be named as a separate entity. Thus, it will be considered a part of Nishinoshima island. The island was about 500 meters off Nishinoshima island when it was first spotted on November 20 by the coast guard. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
OGASAWARA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 25: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this aerial image, a new islet (L) is seen connected with Nishinoshima island on December 25, 2013 in Ogasawara, Tokyo, Japan. With the new islet merging with the existing Nishinoshima island, there is little possibility it will be named as a separate entity. Thus, it will be considered a part of Nishinoshima island. The island was about 500 meters off Nishinoshima island when it was first spotted on November 20 by the coast guard. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
OGASAWARA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 25: (CHINA OUT, SOUTH KOREA OUT) In this aerial image, a new islet (R) is seen connected with Nishinoshima island on December 25, 2013 in Ogasawara, Tokyo, Japan. With the new islet merging with the existing Nishinoshima island, there is little possibility it will be named as a separate entity. Thus, it will be considered a part of Nishinoshima island. The island was about 500 meters off Nishinoshima island when it was first spotted on November 20 by the coast guard. (Photo by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)
NISHINOSHIMA, JAPAN - DECEMBER 31, 2013: This is a satellite image of the volcanic activity from Nishinoshima (Ogasawara) island collected on December 31st, 2013. This image shows a new island, provisionally named Niijima, merging with Nishinoshima. (Photo DigitalGlobe/ScapeWare3d via Getty Images)
In this Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013 photo released by Japan Coast Guard, smoke billows from a new island off the coast of Nishinoshima, seen left above, a small, uninhabited island in the Ogasawara chain, far south of Tokyo. The Japan Coast Guard and earthquake experts said a volcanic eruption has raised the new island in the seas to the far south of Tokyo. (AP Photo/Japan Coast Guard)
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By RYAN GORMAN

Officials in Japan are concerned an erupting volcanic island could collapse and create a tsunami.

The newly-formed island about 620 miles south of Tokyo is forming at a rate of about 7-million cubic feet of molten lava a day, and officials fear those slopes could fall into the ocean and cause a catastrophe.

"If lava continues to mount on the eastern area, part of the island's slopes could collapse and cause a tsunami," Fukashi Maeno, assistant professor of the Earthquake Research Institute at the University of Tokyo, told AFP.

The volcano is spewing enough lava each day to fill 80 Olympic-sized swimming pools, explained Maeno.

A collapse of about seven days worth of accumulated lava would send a three-foot-high wall of water towards neighboring island of Chichijima at a speed faster than a bullet train, according to the scientist.

It would wash over the island only 18 minutes after the collapse. About 2,000 people live on Chichijima, which is the largest island in an archipelago administered by the Tokyo metropolitan government.

"We studied the simulation this morning, and we are thinking of consulting with earthquake prediction experts... about the probability of this actually happening, and what kind of measures we would be able to take," an official with the Japan Meteorological Agency told AFP.

JMA monitors earthquakes and tsunamis and the agency is watching for signs of trouble while deciding on whether to take any protective measures.

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