New island emerges in the Pacific Ocean following volcanic eruption

The brand new island, located southwest of Tongan land, will more than likely be short-lived, NASA's Earth Observatory said.

 An image of the newly-formed island, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Taken on September 14, 2022 (photo credit: LAUREN DAUPHIN/NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY)
An image of the newly-formed island, located in the southwest Pacific Ocean. Taken on September 14, 2022
(photo credit: LAUREN DAUPHIN/NASA EARTH OBSERVATORY)

A new island emerged from the waters of the southwest Pacific Ocean following a volcanic eruption at Home Reef, an island situated atop a seafloor ridge dominated by underwater volcanoes, NASA's Earth Observatory announced this week.

One of the submarine volcanoes in the ridge, which stretches from New Zealand to Tonga, erupted on September 10, causing heavy pollution in the water and clouds of steam and ash to suffocate the surrounding skies.

Some 11 hours after the eruption began, the new island, with a land area of only 4,000 sq.m., emerged from the waters and was captured by the observatory's Operational Land Imager-2. By September 20, the island sextupled in size to 24,000 sq.m., the observatory said.

It is located southwest of the 6 km.-wide, uninhabited Late Island, under the control of Tonga.

 A volcano is seen exploding. The level of devastation it could cause is something the world is not prepared for (Illustrative). (credit: Pixabay/Stockvault) A volcano is seen exploding. The level of devastation it could cause is something the world is not prepared for (Illustrative). (credit: Pixabay/Stockvault)

Why the island won't stay above water for long, probably

The young island is one of many oceanic islands that are formed by eruptions from the ocean floor. However, it will more than likely be submerged underwater again sooner rather than later, the observatory noted.

Although some tend to stick around for longer periods, the oceanic islands are mostly temporary, fitting the chaotic nature of the Earth's oceans. The new island is not even the first to emerge following eruptions at Home Reef, which had four recorded periods of eruptions.

Small islands also formed in earlier eruptions recorded in the area in 1852 and 1857. More eruption events in 1984 and 2006 brought about short-lasting islands which featured cliffs that reached up to 50-70 meters in height.