A new island has emerged in Tonga after the eruption of the Home Reef volcano

A new island has emerged in Tonga after the eruption of the Home Reef volcano
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Volcanic eruptions are not new in Tonga. A large part of the nation of Polynesia – an archipelago of more than 170 islands – owes its existence to the volcanic activity that created the western island chain that began thousands of years ago.

Home Reef, an active underwater volcano in the region, is its mother a handful From them. Often, it spews out a mixture of accumulating lava, steam, and ash, creating a boom, island, or seamount.

It happened earlier this month, when a baby island entered the water 11 hours after Home Reef erupted in September. 10, NASA recently announced news release. It started around an acre, but has grown to about 8.6 hectares in a matter of days due to the volcano’s recent eruptions. Tonga Geological Surveygovernment agency.

While the word the island may conjure up images of sandy beaches and lush vegetation, this is not the case on volcanic islands.

“It’s more like a big layer of ash, steam and pumice over the ocean,” Rennie Vaiomounga, a geologist with the Tonga Geological Survey, told The Washington Post. This means the new island isn’t sturdy enough to walk on, although that could change if it sticks around long enough to become sturdy.

Located in the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, one of the world’s most active volcanic arcs, eruptions on the House Reef frequently create new land masses. Vaiomounga said the sporadic emergence of the islands is a bit of a “geological puzzle”.

“We never know when the island will appear or when it will disappear.

The Tonga volcano erupted an unprecedented amount of water into the atmosphere

It can take centuries, decades, or sometimes just a few years for a volcano to erupt and form an island. The first recorded Home Reef explosion was in 1852. It erupted again five years later. In both cases, small islands were produced, but they were temporary. According to information, the same thing was repeated in 1984 and 2006 Smithsonian Institution Global Volcanism Program.

Each time the small islands take a different shape. In 1984 – measuring just over 185 acres – it looked like a rectangular cheese board, with handles and all. The island that emerged in 2006 was much closer to the island thumb out of the waterwith a rounded mound developed by rocks at least 164 feet high.

This time around new island It looks like an almost perfectly round mole that rises about 49 feet above the surface of the ocean. Its surface is large enough to fit 6½ standard football fields.

When volcanoes erupt, the magma breaks up into small shards of glass that are thrown into the air. otherwise known as ash, Vaiomounga said. If a mixture of broken minerals, glass, and rock erupts from an underwater volcano like Home Reef, it drifts into the ocean.

Vaiomounga added that the hallmark of an underwater eruption is a pool of volcanic pebbles, or pumice, that make the surface of the water look like a rocky beach. Sometimes these minerals travel hundreds of miles and eventually wash ashore. But they can also build and create an island.

How long the fledgling island will survive is another question. According to the Smithsonian Institution, the 2006 volcano, for example, was submerged until 2008, when the summit was about 33 feet below water. Sincerely. The Lateiki volcano, also in Tonga, created an island in 2020 that disappeared two months later. According to NASA, that volcano had previously formed an island 25 years ago.

Ephemeral islands often don’t last long because erosion breaks them apart. Vaiomounga said that the minerals that make them islands slowly return to the seafloor of their producers, which in the future will spawn new islands – the geological circle of life.

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