Many of us want to live on an Island away from cities and modern life. Buying an island is kind of expensive but what if you discover an island is it yours and how are islands formed?

Can You Claim An Island
Source: Wikimedia Commons

To answer the question “if you discover an island is it yours”, we have to first ask another question, ‘Are there still any undiscovered islands?’. Is it really conceivable that you will eventually come across an island that is not shown on any map?

It wasn’t that long ago, when a volcano erupted 30 kilometers off the south coast of Iceland, just 46 years ago. It was a good 120 meters below the surface of the sea on the ocean floor. Water vapor and lava fountains shot up from the sea. After a few hours, the column of smoke was more than four kilometers high. Lava masses piled up on the seafloor. They formed an island that a day later was ten meters high. That was November 14, 1963. The island of Surtsey was formed.

After four weeks of volcanic activity, 150 meters protruded from the sea. The volcano spat for another four years before going out. By then, an area of around 2.8 square kilometers had been created.

Volcanoes Create Islands – How Islands Are Formed

How are islands formed? From time to time, underground volcanic eruptions create new islands, especially in the area of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which divides the Atlantic into a western and an eastern half. Just like Surtsey, the youngest of these islands. There is also the possibility that new islands will form in other volcanic regions. Hawaii, for example, would not exist without volcanic activity.

If someone sails in volcano-rich areas, they may actually enjoy being the first to set foot on previously undiscovered terrain. But then who owns the newly created landmass?

Volcanoes Create Islands
Source: Pixnio

The answer is likely to tarnish the joy of the discovery of some sailors a little. Because if you come across a new island, you are not allowed to keep it. It breaks the dream of your own island, unless you buy it for money, as Johnny Depp did.

No Private Property Possible – Private Island

A private person cannot establish private ownership of an island they have discovered. The island can only be taken possession of by one state or by its organs, i.e. the army, the police, the civil servants. And which state is it to which this right then falls? It will either be the state, its national discovered the island, or a state located near the island. This state then effectively exercises sovereignty. 

Source: Pxfuel

Too bad. But anything else might be too good to be true. By the way, the island of Surtsey was visited by French journalists in the first days of its existence. They stayed on the island for a quarter of an hour and then claimed French sovereignty over the island. However, the Icelandic authorities resisted as Surtsey was ultimately created in Icelandic territorial waters.

You Can Still Name the Island – If You Discover An Island Is It Yours?

And what about the naming? Does the discoverer of a new island have at least this privilege? Ultimately, the naming is also a matter for the state that has taken possession of the island. But at least, the state is free to adopt the name that the discoverer gave the island. So, if you can’t keep the island for yourself, there is a high probability that it may be named what you hoped to call it.

Also Read: How Did The Sand Get Into The Sahara Desert? How Sahara Desert Was Formed?

How long this island will then exist is another exciting topic. Surtsey, for example, is gradually being eroded by waves, rain, and wind. The island has already lost half of its area. It will disappear into the sea around 150 years after it emerged from the water.

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