'Ghost Ships' From WWII Brought Up From Sea Bed Following Volcanic Activity
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Activity from an underwater volcano has brought two dozen 'ghost ships' to the surface of the Pacific Ocean, decades after being sunk during WWII.
The ships were involved in the bloody Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945, when they were sunk by US forces.
However, they came ashore on the western side of Iwo Jima - an island located about 760 miles away from Tokyo, Japan - after seismic activity from underwater volcano Fukutoku-Okanoba brought them up from the sea bed.
Aerial images released by Japanese news channel All Nippon News show the resurfaced remains of the 24 ships, which are now lying on a bed of volcanic ash due to the seismic tremors.
Setsuya Nakada of the Volcano Research Promotion Centre told All Nippon News: "The discoloured sea area has spread to surrounding areas, which indicates that the volcanic activity has not diminished yet.
"There is a possibility of a big eruption on Iwo Jima."
According to the US National Archives, the ships were moved during the war to form a breakwater in preparation for the invasion of US forces, shielding other boats as they unloaded troops and weapons.
Hundreds of Japanese soldiers were captured during the battle, while around 20,000 were killed.
Iwo Jima is now home only to the Japanese military, which has been stationed there since the late 1960s, but is otherwise uninhabited.
The area has been affected by a number of underwater eruptions from Fukutoku-Okanoba since August.
Along with forcing the ships up from the seabed, the recent seismic activity has also seen a small island formed from pumice and volcanic ash emerge from the water.
However, Nakada said it is believed that the island will vanish soon due to erosion.
Japan sits on the Ring of Fire, a string of volcanoes and sites of seismic activity around the Pacific Ocean, with the Bonin Islands, a string of around 30 subtropical islands, including Iwo Jima.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the Bonin Islands - which were formed by the subduction of the Pacific tectonic plate underneath the Philippine Sea Plate - are articularly prone to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions.
The agency says on its website: "Located in one of the most active seismic and volcanic zones in the world, Japan is frequently affected by earthquakes and volcanic disasters.
"JMA operationally monitors seismic and volcanic activity throughout the country and issues relevant warnings and information to mitigate damage caused by disasters related to earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions."