Underwater volcano causes 3,300 ft column of steam

Monday, July 4, 2005

A plume of steam, rising more than 1100 meters into the air, spotted by Japanese troops on Iwo Jima.

An underwater volcano near the island of Iwo Jima (translation: "Sulfur Island") in the Pacific Ocean has caused a 3,280 ft (1,000m) column of vapour to rise from the water, coastguard officials said yesterday morning. The column of steam was reported on Saturday by Japanese troops who were stationed on the island.

An observational expedition to assess the activity was prematurely ended due to safety concerns, though the possibility of a tsunami was denied. Officials who flew over the area said the surface of the water "appeared red", which would suggest underwater volcanic activity. The expedition returned with video footage confirming earlier reports, said Shigeyuki Sato, a spokesperson for the coast guard. The survery crew found "grayish mud" rising from the ocean, though it is not known whether volcanic gases are being released.

The area known as Fukutokuoka-no-ba has a history of seismic activity, with at least ten historic eruptions in the last century. The most recent underwater volcano eruption was in 1986 and lasted three days. Japan's Meteorological Agency said there was no current danger of a tsunami, often caused by underwater seismic activity.