WATCH: Japanese scientists visit new island formed by volcano

Click to play video: 'Scientists visit new volcanic island off the coast of Japan'
Scientists visit new volcanic island off the coast of Japan
Japanese researchers land on Nishinoshima, also known as Rosario Island, for the first time after spectacular eruptions create an island 12 times the size of the original rocky outcrop it used to be – Oct 27, 2016

Japanese researchers land for the first time on what used to be a rocky outcrop called Nishinoshima in the middle of the Pacific Ocean after two years of spectacular eruptions created an island 12 times its size.

Researchers from Japan’s environment ministry, who swam the final distance from a small boat to the island to minimize biological contamination, were the first people to step foot on the island in recent history.

READ MORE: Volcano raises new island far south of Japan

Until 1973, the rocky outcrop was barely 650 metres long and 200 metres wide, and had experienced little volcanic activity, researchers say.

But a spectacular eruption nearby in November 2013 spewed out ash and rock for two years, creating an island spanning 2.68 square kilometres, bigger than the city-state of Monaco in Southern France.

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Researchers landing on the island, also called Rosario, collected rock, plant and insect samples for ecological research. They also observed the first colonization of the island by masked gannets, a large seafaring bird.

WATCH: RAW: New volcanic activity on growing Japanese island (2015)

But one of their main goals, the head of the research party said, was to learn how volcanic islands are created.

“We hope to gather those different lava samples, and accumulated volcanic ash, to study the process of growth of a volcanic island,” said Takeo.

Researchers also planted several seismic monitors around the uninhabited island to record future geological activity.

Nishinoshima, located nearly 1,000 kilometres south of Tokyo, is part of the Ogasawara archipelago which is administratively part of Tokyo. Still, it takes nearly a day by boat to travel to Ogasawara, the closest inhabited island.

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Studying volcanoes is high priority in Japan which lies on the “Ring of Fire,” a horseshoe-shaped band of fault lines and volcanoes around the edges of the Pacific Ocean that is home to more than 100 active volcanoes.

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