Matua Island
Overview
 
Matua is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

 chain in the Sea of Okhotsk
Sea of Okhotsk
The Sea of Okhotsk is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, lying between the Kamchatka Peninsula on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, the island of Hokkaidō to the far south, the island of Sakhalin along the west, and a long stretch of eastern Siberian coast along the west and...

 in the northwest Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, 16 kilometers across Golovnin Strait
Vasily Golovnin
Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin .-Early life and career:Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin was born in April 1776, in the village of Gulyniki in Ryazan Oblast, on his father's country estate. Both his father and grandfather had served in the Russian military as officers in the elite Preobrazhensky...

 from Raikoke
Raikoke
Raikoke , also spelled Raykoke, is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, across Golovnin Strait from Matua. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “hellmouth”.-Geology:Raikoke is roughly circular,...

. Its name is derived from the Ainu language
Ainu language
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages, spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō....

, from “hellmouth”.
Matua was visited by hunting and fishing parties of the Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

, 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
Matsumae clan
The was a Japanese clan which was granted the area around Matsumae, Hokkaidō as a march fief in 1590 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and charged with defending it, and by extension all of Japan, from the Ainu 'barbarians' to the north. The clan was originally known as the Kakizaki clan who settled...

, a feudal domain of Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

 Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 dated 1644, and these holdings were officially confirmed by the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 in 1715.
Encyclopedia
Matua is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands
Kuril Islands
The Kuril Islands , in Russia's Sakhalin Oblast region, form a volcanic archipelago that stretches approximately northeast from Hokkaidō, Japan, to Kamchatka, Russia, separating the Sea of Okhotsk from the North Pacific Ocean. There are 56 islands and many more minor rocks. It consists of Greater...

 chain in the Sea of Okhotsk
Sea of Okhotsk
The Sea of Okhotsk is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, lying between the Kamchatka Peninsula on the east, the Kuril Islands on the southeast, the island of Hokkaidō to the far south, the island of Sakhalin along the west, and a long stretch of eastern Siberian coast along the west and...

 in the northwest Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

, 16 kilometers across Golovnin Strait
Vasily Golovnin
Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin .-Early life and career:Vasily Mikhailovich Golovnin was born in April 1776, in the village of Gulyniki in Ryazan Oblast, on his father's country estate. Both his father and grandfather had served in the Russian military as officers in the elite Preobrazhensky...

 from Raikoke
Raikoke
Raikoke , also spelled Raykoke, is an uninhabited volcanic island near the center of the Kuril Islands chain in the Sea of Okhotsk in the northwest Pacific Ocean, across Golovnin Strait from Matua. Its name is derived from the Ainu language, from “hellmouth”.-Geology:Raikoke is roughly circular,...

. Its name is derived from the Ainu language
Ainu language
Ainu is one of the Ainu languages, spoken by members of the Ainu ethnic group on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaidō....

, from “hellmouth”.

History

Matua was visited by hunting and fishing parties of the Ainu
Ainu people
The , also called Aynu, Aino , and in historical texts Ezo , are indigenous people or groups in Japan and Russia. Historically they spoke the Ainu language and related varieties and lived in Hokkaidō, the Kuril Islands, and much of Sakhalin...

, 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
Matsumae clan
The was a Japanese clan which was granted the area around Matsumae, Hokkaidō as a march fief in 1590 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and charged with defending it, and by extension all of Japan, from the Ainu 'barbarians' to the north. The clan was originally known as the Kakizaki clan who settled...

, a feudal domain of Edo period
Edo period
The , or , is a division of Japanese history which was ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family, running from 1603 to 1868. The political entity of this period was the Tokugawa shogunate....

 Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

 dated 1644, and these holdings were officially confirmed by the Tokugawa shogunate
Tokugawa shogunate
The Tokugawa shogunate, also known as the and the , was a feudal regime of Japan established by Tokugawa Ieyasu and ruled by the shoguns of the Tokugawa family. This period is known as the Edo period and gets its name from the capital city, Edo, which is now called Tokyo, after the name was...

 in 1715. Subsequently claimed by the Empire of Russia, sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 initially passed to Russia under the terms of the Treaty of Shimoda
Treaty of Shimoda
The Treaty of Shimoda of 1855, formally Treaty of Commerce and Navigation between Japan and Russia , was signed between the Russian Vice-Admiral Euphimy Vasil'evich Putiatin and Toshiakira Kawaji of Japan in the city of Shimoda, Izu Province, Japan, on February 7, 1855...

, but was returned to the Empire of Japan
Empire of Japan
The Empire of Japan is the name of the state of Japan that existed from the Meiji Restoration on 3 January 1868 to the enactment of the post-World War II Constitution of...

 per the Treaty of Saint Petersburg (1875) along with the rest of the Kurile islands. The island was formerly administered as part of Shimushiru District of Nemuro Subprefecture
Nemuro Subprefecture
is a subprefecture of Hokkaidō, Japan. The Japanese claim the disputed Southern Kurile Islands as part of this subprefecture....

 of Hokkaidō
Hokkaido
, formerly known as Ezo, Yezo, Yeso, or Yesso, is Japan's second largest island; it is also the largest and northernmost of Japan's 47 prefectural-level subdivisions. The Tsugaru Strait separates Hokkaido from Honshu, although the two islands are connected by the underwater railway Seikan Tunnel...

.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the Imperial Japanese Army
Imperial Japanese Army
-Foundation:During the Meiji Restoration, the military forces loyal to the Emperor were samurai drawn primarily from the loyalist feudal domains of Satsuma and Chōshū...

 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
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

. 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
USS Herring (SS-233)
, a Gato-class submarine, was the only ship of the United States Navy to be named for the herring, a type of small oily fish found in the temperate, shallow waters of the North Atlantic....

. During the Soviet Battle of the Kuril Islands after the end of World War II, the Japanese garrison surrendered without resistance.

After World War II, the island came under the control of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, 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
Dissolution of the Soviet Union
The dissolution of the Soviet Union was the disintegration of the federal political structures and central government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , resulting in the independence of all fifteen republics of the Soviet Union between March 11, 1990 and December 25, 1991...

 in 1999, the island has been uninhabited. It is now administered as part of the Sakhalin Oblast
Sakhalin Oblast
Sakhalin Oblast is a federal subject of Russia comprising the island of Sakhalin and the Kuril Islands.The oblast has an area of 87,100 km² and a population of 546,695...

 of the Russian Federation.

Geology

Matua is roughly oval, with a length of 11 kilometres (6.8 mi) with a width of 6.5 kilometres (4 mi), and an area of 52 square kilometres (20.1 sq mi). The island is a complex stratovolcano
Stratovolcano
A stratovolcano, also known as a composite volcano, is a tall, conical volcano built up by many layers of hardened lava, tephra, pumice, and volcanic ash. Unlike shield volcanoes, stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions...

 with two main peaks.

Sarychev Peak in the northwest of the island is one of the most active volcanoes of the Kuril Islands. The central cone has a 250 meter wide, very steep-walled crater with a jagged rim, rising to a height of 1496 metres (4,908.1 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 flow
Pyroclastic flow
A pyroclastic flow is a fast-moving current of superheated gas and rock , which reaches speeds moving away from a volcano of up to 700 km/h . The flows normally hug the ground and travel downhill, or spread laterally under gravity...

s 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, ; Tengaizan has a height of 127 metres (416.7 ft).

Climate

Although it is located at the same latitude as Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 or Seattle, the Oyashio current
Oyashio Current
, also known as Oya Siwo, Okhotsk or the Kurile current, is a cold subarctic ocean current that flows south and circulates counterclockwise in the western North Pacific Ocean. It collides with the Kuroshio Current off the eastern shore of Japan to form the North Pacific Current...

 on the western flank of the Aleutian Low
Aleutian low
The Aleutian Low is a semi-permanent low pressure center located near the Aleutian Islands during the winter. It is one of the main centers of action in the atmospheric circulation of the Northern Hemisphere...

 gives Matua a subarctic climate
Subarctic climate
The subarctic climate is a climate characterized by long, usually very cold winters, and short, cool to mild summers. It is found on large landmasses, away from the moderating effects of an ocean, generally at latitudes from 50° to 70°N poleward of the humid continental climates...

 (Köppen
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 Dfc) that is very close to a polar climate (ET). Unlike the quintessential subarctic climate of Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

 or Mongolia
Mongolia
Mongolia is a landlocked country in East and Central Asia. It is bordered by Russia to the north and China to the south, east and west. Although Mongolia does not share a border with Kazakhstan, its western-most point is only from Kazakhstan's eastern tip. Ulan Bator, the capital and largest...

, however, Matua has very heavy precipitation as rain, snow and fog. It also has much milder winters than corresponding latitudes in Manchuria
Manchuria
Manchuria is a historical name given to a large geographic region in northeast Asia. Depending on the definition of its extent, Manchuria usually falls entirely within the People's Republic of China, or is sometimes divided between China and Russia. The region is commonly referred to as Northeast...

: the mean temperature of the coldest month in Matua is −6.1 C as against −17.8 C in Qiqihar
Qiqihar
- Subdivisions :Qiqihar is divided into 16 divisions: 7 districts , 8 counties and 1 county-level city .-Economy:...

 in Heilongjiang
Heilongjiang
For the river known in Mandarin as Heilong Jiang, see Amur River' is a province of the People's Republic of China located in the northeastern part of the country. "Heilongjiang" literally means Black Dragon River, which is the Chinese name for the Amur. The one-character abbreviation is 黑...

. 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.

External links


Further reading

  • 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.
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