A 300 meters wide strip of land has risen as high as 10 to 15 meters above the sea level at the town of Rausu, Hokkaido island, Japan, officials said on Monday, April 27, 2015. Media reports say the rise started slowly on the morning of April 24 (local time) and then rapidly increased over the next 24 hours.
According to The Asahi Shimbun, a local woman who was harvesting seaweed along the shoreline on the morning of April 24 noticed the area seemed to be slightly more elevated than the last time she was there. When she finished her task, the area had risen even further, exceeding her height.
Marine organisms such as seaweed and sea urchins are attached to rocks on the land mass, suggesting it rose out of the ocean.
Katsuhiro Tanaka, the president of the Rausu Fisheries Cooperative Association said the local residents didn't hear any sounds and there were no tremors when the land appeared.
The phenomenon initially prompted speculation of mysterious seismic activities, fueling fears of another big quake, but geologists believe the emergence was probably a result of a landslide nearby, when melting ice and snow caused a section of land to drop, pivoting the underwater area into the air, AFP reports.
According to the results of the on-site study by Shintaro Yamasaki, assistant professor of engineering technology at the Kitami Institute of Technology in Hokkaido, a landslide occurred on the hill toward the sea pushing up the seabed and, as a result, the sea bottom appeared above the surface.
An official at the central government's Hokkaido Regional Development Bureau said authorities have not been able to determine exactly when the landslide hit the snow-covered coastline, but they do not expect it to expand further.
Rausu officials have sealed off the area so it can be studied.
Featured image credit: TBS News-I