Satellite Footage Shows New Island Emerge From the Sea After Just 11 Hours of Volcanic Eruptions

by Shelby Scott
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(Photo by Gallo Images/USGS/NASA Landsat data processed by Orbital Horizon)

If you’ve ever really wondered about the island formation process, now’s your chance to learn a thing or two. Earlier this month, satellite photos captured the birth of a brand new baby island after an underwater volcano began spewing lava, ash, and steam.

According to CNN, the baby island emerged in the Southwest Pacific Ocean, a popular location for volcanic activity. On September 10th, one of the underwater volcanoes there began erupting, emitting lava and other noxious fumes. Then, just 11 hours after the eruption began, a small island emerged from the water.

Like human infants, the infantile island rapidly grew in size. When satellites first captured photos of the volcanic eruption, the island measured 4,000 square meters. That’s the equivalent of a single acre. Less than a week later, it had more than quadrupled in size. As of September 20th, it achieved 24,000 square meters which equates to 6 total acres.

Per the outlet, the new island resides on the Home Reef seamount in the Central Tonga Islands.

As fascinating as the birth of the new island is, NASA doesn’t predict it having a very long lifespan. The space agency states islands formed by volcanic eruptions “are often short-lived.” On occasion though, these temporary islands could endure years or even decades.

Scientists Studying Impact of January’s Volcanic Eruption on the Tongan Island

In January 2022, many residents on the island of Tonga had their lives uprooted as a massive volcano erupted, destroying homes and commercial structures and forcing many evacuations. Now, eight months following the historic eruption, scientists are still trying to understand its full impact on the Pacific islands and the globe overall. They’ve begun releasing their findings in a new study in the journal Science.

The volcano, named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’pai, is unique compared to other volcanoes. While many eruptions shoot large amounts of sulfur into the air, the January eruption on the Pacific island sent millions of tons of water soaring into the atmosphere. While sulfur eruptions tend to have a cooling effect on our planet, the mass amounts of water could further impact global warming.

At the time of the eruption, scientists estimate the amount of water in the stratosphere increased by 5%. Speaking about the eruption, the study’s lead author Holger Voemel said, “This was a once-in-a-lifetime event.”

While global warming is a serious concern for many scientists and environmentalists, Karen Rosenlof, a climate scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, believes the effects will be short-lived.

Of Tonga’s January eruption, she predicts, “This amount of increase [of moisture in the atmosphere] might warm the surface a small amount for a short amount of time.”

Nevertheless, scientists remain completely baffled by the eruption as there’s been none like it in recorded history.

Outsider.com