It all started with the eruption of an underwater volcano discovered on the central islands of Tonga on September 10th.
In just eleven hours, a landmass rose from the depths of the water, created by the outgoing lava, which immediately cooled and solidified under the ocean waters.
In the days that followed, the lava continued to come out, and the newly formed island continued to grow.
On September 16, the diameter of the island was 170 meters, and two days later it increased to 182 meters. By September 20, the island had grown to 24,000 square meters and 10 meters in height.
The formation of the new island was captured on September 14 by Landsat 9. This natural color image shows a huge column of steam and ash rising from the volcano.
You can also see a cloud of discolored water growing around the land, created by the presence of superheated and acidic sea water containing volcanic rock and sulfur.
The new island is located southwest of Leith Island, northeast of Hung Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai. In this part of the Pacific Ocean there is a zone where three tectonic plates slowly collide.
Unfortunately, the resulting island, most likely, will not survive. Weathering and erosion caused by waves and currents will quickly destroy the volcanic rock and the island will quickly disappear.
However, some new islands sometimes manage to survive. In 2014, an undersea volcano erupted in this part of the Pacific, forming the significant island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai.
Although the island is of recent origin, it has already developed a thriving ecosystem with vegetation and nesting birds.
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