A new “baby” island has been sighted in the middle of the ocean

When an underwater volcano erupted in the middle of the ocean this month, it left behind something unexpected: a “baby” island that scientists observed just hours after the eruption. The toddler has continued to grow in the weeks since. However, experts say this may not last. Read on to find out why.

United States Geological Survey

The eruption of the underwater volcano known as Home Reef occurred near the central Tonga Islands in the Southwest Pacific. Experts say lava from the volcano was cooled by the seawater, forming the island, which grew in size as the lava continued to flow. In an update posted to Facebook on Sept. 27, scientists from Tonga Geological Services said the island had reached a total area of ​​8.6 acres (about six football fields) and an elevation of about 50 feet above sea level. That’s quite a growth spurt from the one morning briefly observed by scientists on September 14th.


The island is “more like a big layer of ash, steam and pumice over the ocean,” said Rennie Vaiomounga, a geologist with Tonga Geological Services the Washington Post on Sept 26. That means it can’t last. “We never know when the island will appear or when it will disappear,” he said.


NASA Earth Observatory also warned that baby island may not become a permanent part of the planet. “Islands created by underwater volcanoes are often short-lived, although they occasionally persist for years,” the agency said. “Home Reef has had four recorded eruption periods, including events in 1852 and 1857. Small islands formed transiently after both events, and the 1984 and 2006 eruptions produced ephemeral islands with cliffs 50 to 70 meters high .” They added: “An island created by a 12-day eruption of nearby Late’iki volcano in 2020 washed away after two months, while a previous island created by the same volcano in 1995 lasted 25 years persisted.”


The area where the volcano erupted contains the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world, says NASA Earth Observatory. Home Reef lies in the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, where three tectonic plates “collide at the world’s fastest converging boundary.”

“The Pacific Plate is sinking under two other small plates here, leaving behind one of the deepest trenches and most active volcanic arcs on Earth,” the agency says.


As spectacular as volcanic eruptions may be, they are not particularly dangerous. “The volcano poses a low risk to the communities of Vava’u and Ha’apai,” says Tonga Geological Services. “No visible ash has been reported in the past 24 hours. All mariners are advised to sail more than 4km from Home Reef until further notice.”

https://bestlifeonline.com/news-a-new-baby-island-has-been-spotted-in-the-middle-of-the-ocean-after-volcano-eruption/ A new “baby” island has been sighted in the middle of the ocean

Sarah Y. Kim

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