New ‘baby’ island appears in Pacific Ocean after Tonga volcano eruption

A few hours after the eruption of an underwater volcano near Australia, a new “small” island was spotted in the middle of the ocean.

Earlier this month, the underwater volcano Home Reef, found on the islands of Central Tonga, erupted and formed the newest land mass on Earth within hours.

The lava from the volcano was cooled by the ocean water, forming an island that grew in size over several days as the lava continued to flow.

On September 14, scientists from the Geological Survey of Tonga announced that the area of ​​the island is about 4,000 square meters and its height is 10 meters above sea level, but by September 20, it had grown to 24,000 square meters.

The eruption continued from September 10 until at least last Friday, September 23, when the Geological Survey of Tonga confirmed on Facebook that it “poses a low risk to the aviation community and residents of (nearby island groups) Vavau and Ha’apai. “.

“There has been no visible ash in the last 24 hours,” the statement said. “All sailors are advised to sail beyond 4km from the House Reef until further notice.”

However, according to NASA’s Earth Observatory, the baby island could be gone forever.

“Islands created by underwater volcanoes are often short-lived, although they sometimes persist for years,” the agency’s Earth Observatory said in an update on the new island.

“The house reef has had four recorded eruptions, including events in 1852 and 1857. Small islands formed temporarily after both events, and the 1984 and 2006 eruptions formed ephemeral islands with rocks 50 to 70 meters high.

“An island formed by a 12-day 2020 eruption from the nearby Lateyki volcano was washed away after two months, while an earlier island created by the same volcano in 1995 remained for 25 years.”

NASA’s Earth Observatory explained that in the Southwest Pacific, “the seafloor ridge that stretches from New Zealand to Tonga has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world.”

It said that Home Reef was in the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, where three tectonic plates “collide at the world’s fastest convergent boundary.”

“The Pacific Plate is subducting under two other small plates here, forming one of the deepest troughs on Earth and the most active volcanic arcs.”

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