Matua (island)

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Matua
Native name: Матуа
松輪島
Matua.jpg
Kuriles Matua.PNG
Geography
Location Sea of Okhotsk
Coordinates 48°06′N 153°12′E / 48.1°N 153.2°E / 48.1; 153.2
Archipelago Kuril Islands
Area 52 km2 (20 sq mi)
Highest elevation 1,496 m (4,908 ft)
Highest point Pik Sarychev
Country
Russia
Demographics
Population 0
Eruption of Sarychev volcano in 2009, as seen from the International Space Station

Matua (Russian: Матуа, Matsuwa Japanese: 松輪島; Matsuwa-tō) is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, 16 kilometers (9.9 mi) across Golovnin Strait from Raikoke. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “hellmouth”.

History[edit]

Matua was visited by hunting and fishing parties of the Ainu, but there was no permanent habitation at the time of European contact. The island appears on an official map showing the territories of Matsumae Domain, a feudal domain of Edo period Japan dated 1644, and these holdings were officially confirmed by the Tokugawa shogunate in 1715. Subsequently claimed by the Empire of Russia, sovereignty initially passed to Russia under the terms of the Treaty of Shimoda, but was returned to the Empire of Japan per the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875) along with the rest of the Kuril islands. The island was formerly administered as part of Shimushiru District of Nemuro Subprefecture of Hokkaidō.

During World War II the Imperial Japanese Army had an airfield located on this island. The island was garrisoned by 7000-8000 men of the 41st Independent Mixed Regiment, 6th Independent Tank Company, and supporting units. During 1944 the Japanese facilities on the island were intermittently bombed by the US Army Air Force or shelled by ships of the United States Navy. Several Japanese cargo vessels were sunk near the island, and while at harbor. On June 1, 1944, a Japanese shore battery on Point Tagan sank the American submarine USS Herring. During the Soviet Battle of the Kuril Islands in the last weeks of World War II, the Japanese garrison surrendered without resistance.

After World War II, the island came under the control of the Soviet Union, and the former Japanese military facilities were manned by the Soviet Border Troops. Following the withdrawal of Soviet military forces following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the island has been uninhabited. It is now administered as part of the Sakhalin Oblast of the Russian Federation.

Geology[edit]

Matua is roughly oval, with a length of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) with a width of 6.5 kilometres (4.0 mi), and an area of 52 square kilometres (20 sq mi).[1] The island is a complex stratovolcano with two main peaks.

Sarychev Peak (Russian: влк.Сарычева , Japanese: 芙蓉山; Fuyōzan, also known as Matsuwa-Fuji) in the northwest of the island is one of the most active volcanoes of the Kuril Islands. The central cone has a 250-meter (820 ft) wide, very steep-walled crater with a jagged rim, rising to a height of 1,496 metres (4,908 ft). Lava flows descending on all sides of the peak forms capes along the coast. Eruptions have been recorded since the 1760s, including 1878–1879, 1923, 1930, 1946, 1960, 1976, 1981, 1987, 1989 and 2009, with the largest in 1946 which produced pyroclastic flows that reached the sea. The 2009 eruption was large enough to affect air traffic between Asia and North America.

The much smaller peak to the south, Japanese: 天蓋山; Tengaizan has a height of 127 metres (417 ft).

Climate[edit]

Although it is located at the same latitude as Paris or Seattle, the Oyashio current on the western flank of the Aleutian Low gives Matua a subarctic climate (Köppen Dfc) that is close to a polar climate (ET). Unlike the quintessential subarctic climate of Siberia or Mongolia, however, Matua has very heavy precipitation as rain, snow and fog. It also has much milder winters than corresponding latitudes in Manchuria: the mean temperature of the coldest month in Matua is −6.1 °C (21.0 °F) as against −17.8 °C (0.0 °F) in Qiqihar in Heilongjiang. Seasonal lag, like in all the Kuril Islands, is a major feature of the climate, with August being the mildest month and February the coldest.

Climate data for Matua Island
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °C (°F) 12.8
(55)
8.9
(48)
11.1
(52)
12.8
(55)
21.1
(70)
23.9
(75)
25.0
(77)
26.1
(79)
23.9
(75)
17.2
(63)
12.2
(54)
8.9
(48)
26.1
(79)
Average high °C (°F) −3.9
(25)
−3.9
(25)
−2.2
(28)
1.1
(34)
4.4
(39.9)
8.3
(46.9)
11.7
(53.1)
14.4
(57.9)
12.2
(54)
8.3
(46.9)
2.8
(37)
−1.7
(28.9)
4.3
(39.7)
Average low °C (°F) −7.2
(19)
−8.3
(17.1)
−7.2
(19)
−2.8
(27)
−0.6
(30.9)
1.7
(35.1)
5.6
(42.1)
7.2
(45)
6.1
(43)
3.3
(37.9)
−1.7
(28.9)
−5.6
(21.9)
−0.8
(30.6)
Record low °C (°F) −22.2
(−8)
−27.2
(−17)
−18.9
(−2)
−12.2
(10)
−5
(23)
−3.9
(25)
−2.8
(27)
−1.1
(30)
−2.2
(28)
−3.9
(25)
−12.2
(10)
−21.1
(−6)
−27.2
(−17)
Precipitation mm (inches) 113.3
(4.461)
88.6
(3.488)
69.1
(2.72)
96.8
(3.811)
122.7
(4.831)
84.6
(3.331)
124.0
(4.882)
150.4
(5.921)
146.8
(5.78)
124.7
(4.909)
117.9
(4.642)
104.7
(4.122)
1,343.6
(52.898)
Source: Worldwide Bioclimatic Classification System[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "International Kuril Island Project(IKIP)". University of Washington Fish Collection or the respective authors. 
  2. ^ RUSSIA - MATUA KURIL IS, accessed 29 November 2011

Further reading[edit]

  • Gorshkov, G. S. Volcanism and the Upper Mantle Investigations in the Kurile Island Arc. Monographs in geoscience. New York: Plenum Press, 1970. ISBN 0-306-30407-4
  • Krasheninnikov, Stepan Petrovich, and James Greive. The History of Kamtschatka and the Kurilski Islands, with the Countries Adjacent. Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1963.
  • Rees, David. The Soviet Seizure of the Kuriles. New York: Praeger, 1985. ISBN 0-03-002552-4
  • Takahashi, Hideki, and Masahiro Ōhara. Biodiversity and Biogeography of the Kuril Islands and Sakhalin. Bulletin of the Hokkaido University Museum, no. 2-. Sapporo, Japan: Hokkaido University Museum, 2004.

External links[edit]