New Island Reveals After Underwater Explosion in the Pacific: ScienceAlert

New Island Reveals After Underwater Explosion in the Pacific: ScienceAlert
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a submerged volcano at the top of the sea known as main reef He stuck his head out of the blue to wake up after 16 years of deep sleep in the Central Tonga Islands.

On September 10, 2022, lava and boulders began to seep into the ocean. 25 kilometers (15 miles) southwest of Late Islandas clouds of steam and ash burst from the surface of the waves.

The debris gradually collected on an entirely new island, covering 4,000 square meters (an acre) and reaching a height of 10 meters (33 feet) in a matter of days.

But on September 20, officials from the Tonga Geological Service (TGS) wouldn’t be much longer. announced He said the island has grown six times and expanded to 24,000 square meters.

Like a phoenix rising from its ashes, this short-lived, nameless structure will likely return to the smoldering ‘Ring of Fire’ of the Pacific Ocean long before any sailor can hope to set foot on its rocky shore.

When Home Reef last gave birth to a new island in 2006, it took a year for the ocean’s waves to erode its crest. This time, the hill is much shorter.

So much debris was produced by the submerged Tonga volcano during the 2006 event that a large raft of sparkling volcanic glass known as pumice drifted across the South Pacific, giving land an eerie appearance.

You can see footage of that raft below:

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Since 1852, Home Reef has produced islands. five timessome are reaching between 50 and 70 meters at height. In 1984, even the island hole and small lagoon.

The seamount responsible for these short-lived structures is located in an area of ​​the Pacific Ocean known as the “Sea”. Tonga-Kermadec subduction zoneIt holds some of the fastest converging tectonic plates in the world.

Here, the Pacific Plate is rapidly sliding beneath two other plates (Kermadec and Tonga) at a rate of about 24 centimeters (9 inches) per year, forming the world’s second deepest trench and a highly active volcanic arc.

In fact, this long ridge of seafloor spanning from Tonga to New Zealand is home to the highest concentration of underwater volcanoes found anywhere on Earth.

Satellite images of Home Reef’s latest eruption capture the formation of its newest island in stunning detail. The image below was released by NASA on September 14 using data from the US Geological Survey.

It shows not only a long trail of smoke, but also an intense discoloration of the surrounding ocean.

The main reef emerging from the volcano.
A submerged volcano that erupted to form Home Reef. (Lauren Dauphin/NASA Earth Observatory/USGS)

A follow-up image captured on September 18 using USGS data and shared by TGS on Facebook zooms in on the volcanic fallout, as can be seen below.

Home Reef eruption 2022
The eruption that formed the Home Reef in September 2022. (USGS)

The clouding of the water is likely the result of superheated acidic seawater mixing with volcanic rock fragments and debris. latest press release from NASA.

“The volcano poses low risk to the aviation community and residents of Vava’u and Ha’apai,” TGS said. announced on September 20.

“However, all sailors are advised to stay within 4 kilometers of Home Reef until further notice.”

since September 25 no more scenery Volcanic ash or steam from this slice of the Pacific. Home Reef is probably over for now, making us appreciate its latest gift to the sea as much as we can.

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