After an underwater volcano erupts, a new island appears in the Pacific Ocean
By: April Carson
A baby island has been born in the Central Tonga Islands, according to international news sources.
The newborn island formed in the southwest Pacific Ocean, where numerous underwater volcanoes are present. According to a NASA Earth Observatory statement, one of these submerged volcanoes awoke on September 10, belching lava, steam, and ash.
NASA says that just eleven hours after the volcano began to erupt, a new island had emerged above the water’s surface. The agency captured images of the nascent island with satellites.
The new island rapidly expanded in size, as seen by NASA. On September 14th, researchers from Tonga Geological Services guessed the island only covered 4,000 square meters - around one acre. However, by September 20th, they observed that the land had grown to cover 24 thousand square meters - or close to 6 acres. The newfound islet rests on Home Reef seamount located near Late Island in Southwest of Central Tonga Islands. The island is made up of two parts: an older, inner region that sits atop the seamount, and a newer outer rim that’s being constructed by lava flows.
It’s not uncommon for underwater volcanoes to create new islands. In fact, this is how many of the Hawaiian Islands were formed. However, what makes this event so unusual is the speed at which it happened. “Usually, when an island forms from an underwater volcano, it takes days, weeks or months for the land to rise above the surface,” said Wouter Schellart, a volcanologist at Monash University in Australia.
According to NASA, islands that are created by underwater volcanoes "tend not to last very long." However, there have been cases where these fleeting islands remain for years or even decades.
According to the Tonga Geological Services' Facebook post from Friday, the Home Reef volcano is still active; however, it poses no significant threats to aviation or those living on the Vava'u and Ha'apai island chains in central Tonga.
The volcano was still erupting, yet it appeared to be calming somewhat. “No visible ash in the previous 24 hours was reported,” said the agency. “All Mariners are advised to sail beyond 4km from Home Reef until further notice.”
The last time an underwater volcano produced a new island in Tonga was in 2001, when an eruption near the island of Hunga Ha'apai created a temporary landmass. That same year, another undersea volcano erupted near Japan, creating a new island called Minamitorishima.
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About the Blogger:
April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
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