A new ‘baby island’ appears in the Pacific Ocean after a volcanic eruption in Tonga

A new ‘baby island’ has been spotted in the middle of the ocean hours after an underwater volcano erupted near Australia.

Earlier this month, the Home Reef underwater volcano discovered in the islands of central Tonga erupted and within hours had formed the newest landmass on Earth.

Lava from the volcano was cooled by ocean waters to form an island that grew in size over several days as the lava flow continued.

On 14 September, Tonga Geological Services scientists reported that the island had an area of ​​about 4,000 square meters and a height of 10 meters above sea level, but by 20 September it had grown to 24,000 square metres.

The eruption has been ongoing since September 10 until at least last Friday, September 23, when Tonga Geological Services confirmed on Facebook that it “poses minor risks aviation community and the inhabitants of (nearby island groups) Vava’u and Ha’apai”.

A new one has been spotted in the Pacific Ocean
A new ‘baby island’ has been spotted in the Pacific hours after an underwater volcanic eruption.
NASA Earth Observatory / Cover Ima

“No visible ash was reported in the last 24 hours,” the post reads. “All mariners are advised to sail more than 4km from Home Reef until further notice.”

However, according to the NASA Earth Observatory, the baby island may not be here to stay.

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

“Home Reef has had four recorded episodes of eruption, including events in 1852 and 1857. Small islands formed temporarily after both events, and eruptions in 1984 and 2006 produced short-lived islands with cliffs 50 to 70 meters high.

“An island created by a 12-day eruption of the nearby Late’iki volcano in 2020 washed away after two months, while an island created by the same volcano in 1995 persisted for 25 years.”

NASA Earth Observatory explained it inside In the southwest Pacific, “a seafloor ridge stretching from New Zealand to Tonga that has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world”.

It stated that Home Reef sits inside Tonga-Kermadec a subduction zone where three tectonic plates “collide at the world’s most rapidly converging boundary.”

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

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