Monday, 2 July 2018

Lot’s Wife, A Dramatic Inhabited Island

Lot's Wife is also called Widow's Crag is a volcanic, deserted island located in the Philippine Sea. Lot’s Wife lies about 650 KM south off the coast of Tokyo, and 76 KM from nearby Torishima at the southernmost tip of the Izu archipelago, Japan. However Widow’s Crag Island is just 0.01 km2 in area, but it reaches almost 100 meters in height.  Its dramatic and isolated setting prompted discolored sea water was observed about 500 m north of Sofugan, and the volcano was reclassified as active by the Japan Meteorological Agency in 2003.
The Widow’s Crag island is a basalt pillar with sheer sides, the only visible portion of a submarine volcanic caldera extending 2.6 KM south-east at an average depth of 240 meters. The sea-level portion measures is about 84 meters east-west and 56 meters north-south, with a summit height of 99 meters. Lot’s Wife sides features having several geological joints facing the water's surface.
Lot’s Wife is a biblical figure who turned into a pillar of salt.  Due to its exclusive shape and heavy seas it is almost incredible to disembark on the island, though many attempts have been made by rock climbers successfully in 1972 and 2003 and several accidents have been registered. The Lot’s Wife is also known for the transparency of its surrounding waters and abundance of fish, which makes it a popular scuba diving spot. The only vegetation on the island is a few clumps of Poaceae, and the island attracts a small number of seabirds for nesting.
On April 9, 1788, British merchant sailor John Meares sighted what he came to describe as “the most marvellous thing” he had ever set his eyes on, a small island he and the ship’s crew decided to baptize as Lot's Wife, referring to the Book of Genesis 19:26. During the Pacific War, Sofu Gan was used by US Navy submariners as a reference marker for calibration of instruments as they entered Japanese waters. The uninhabited island was the currently administratively part of Tokyo Metropolis. The Japanese name Sōfu Iwa “Soufuiwa” is rather freely translated from English. This graticule is surely in the running for the smallest nonzero land fraction of any graticule in the world.