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Earth has new island after underwater volcano woke up

Eleven hours after the eruption began, a new island rose above the water surface.

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The Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9 captured a natural-color view of the young island on September 14. (Landsat 9/NASA EO/Lauren Dauphin via SWNS)

By Dean Murray via SWNS

The Earth has a new island.

An underwater volcano in the southwest Pacific Ocean awoke on September 10 and in the days since has been oozing lava, according to NASA Earth Observatory.

It is situated on a seafloor ridge stretching from New Zealand to Tonga that has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world.

Eleven hours after the eruption began, a new island rose above the water surface.

The Home Reef seamount volcano, located in the Central Tonga Islands, ejected plumes of steam and ash, and discolored the surrounding water.

The Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on Landsat 9 captured a natural-color view of the young island on September 14. (Landsat 9/NASA EO/Lauren Dauphin via SWNS)

The Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on the Landsat 9 satellite captured a natural-color view of the young island on September 14.

According to NASA, previous research suggests that the plumes of superheated, acidic seawater contain particulate matter, volcanic rock fragments, and sulfur.

Researchers with Tonga Geological Services estimated the area of the island to be 4,000 square metres (1 acre) and the elevation to be 10 metres (33 feet) above sea level on 14 September.

By September 20, the island had grown to cover 24,000 square meters (6 acres).

“The volcano poses low risks to the aviation community and the residents of Vava‘u and Ha‘apai,” the Tonga Geological Service said in an update issued on September 20.

“All mariners are, however, advised to sail beyond 4 kilometers away from Home Reef until further notice.”

Landsat 9 is an Earth observation satellite launched on September 27, 2021 from Vandenberg Space Force Base.

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