Volcanic mountains

A new island forms in the Pacific Ocean after a volcanic eruption

A volcano that erupted in the southwest Pacific Ocean has begun to create a new island. On September 10, a volcano erupted on Home Reef, an underwater mountain that is usually not visible. But as the volcano continued to erupt, a new island rose above the surface of the water, NASA Earth Observatory said.

The seabed ridge stretching from New Zealand to Tonga has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world. About 11 hours after the volcano erupted, as lava continued to ooze, a new island had formed, and on September 14, researchers from Geological Surveys of Tongawhich is a government agency, estimated the area of ​​the island at 4,000 square meters, or about one acre.

On September 19, the island was 8.6 acres and about 49 feet above sea level, according Geological Surveys of Tonga. On Sunday, the agency said there had been 24 volcanic events in 48 hours – rising from 11 one day to 13 the next.

During volcanic activity, lava and plumes of steam and ash escape. The water surrounding the reef is also now discolored, which could be caused by volcanic rock fragments and sulfur from the eruption, according to NASA.

Volcanic activity poses a low risk to surrounding communities, but boaters are advised to cruise about 2.4 miles from Home Reef, Tonga Geological Services said. CBS News has contacted the agency for more information and is awaiting a response.

Although the island has grown rapidly over the past 16 days of lava flow, it is not expected to last. While islands created by submarine volcanoes can persist for years, they are usually short-lived. For example, Home Reef has had four periods of eruptions. During two of these periods, small islands formed.

During the other two eruption periods in 1984 and 2006, ephemeral islands with cliffs 50 to 70 meters high were formed.

When nearby Late’iki erupted for 12 days in 2020, the island it created was swept away in two months. But an island created by a Late’iki eruption in 1995 lasted 25 years.

In January, Tonga experienced a devastating volcanic eruption on the island, which hurled debris up to 25 miles into the atmosphere and triggered tsunami waves. The country was choked with smoke and practically cut off from communication with the rest of the world after the eruption, which NASA describes as more powerful than the Hiroshima atomic bomb.