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Japan officials fear volcanic island could cause tsunami


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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