NASA has spotted a newly birthed island out in the Pacific Ocean. This island was formed by a succession of volcanic eruptions at the Home Reef volcano, which is located in Central Tonga Islands. NASA says the seamount repeatedly oozed lava and ejected plumes of ash and smoke starting on September 10. The space agency noticed the island eleven hours after eruptions started.
The Tonga Geological Services said that the island was believed to be around 10 meters (33 feet) above sea level and 4,000 square meters (roughly 1 acre) wide. Six days later, though, the newly birthed island had grown to over 24,000 meters wide (around 6 acres). This is a significant growth, and it shows how the seamount has been expanding over those six days.
The image of the newly birthed island showcased above was captured by Landsat 9, which is part of NASA’s Operational Land Imager-2. That image was captured on September 14 and doesn’t show just how much the island has grown since its first appearance.
Unfortunately, NASA says this newly birthed island isn’t likely to survive for very long. The majority of islands that are created from submarine volcanic eruptions will be short-lived. However, some have persisted for multiple years. Whether that will prove to be the case here or not is unclear, though.
The Home Reef seamount saw four records eruptions starting in 1852. After that and another event, small islands were formed in 1857.. Additional eruptions in 1984 and 2006 also produced massive ephemeral islands with cliffs that measured up to 70 meters high.
The location of this newly birthed island is ripe for such events because it is located in an area with three tectonic plates. The plates constantly converge, pushing the Pacific Plate further beneath the other two. This has led to one of the most active volcanic areas in the ocean and yielded one of the deepest trenches on Earth.
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