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NASA discovered a small island from an underwater volcano

  • Published
    28th Sep, 2022
Context

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has now discovered a new island in the southwest Pacific Ocean, which now covers an area of 24,000 square metres.

About
  • A seafloor ridge stretching from New Zealand to Tonga has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world.
  • Recently, one of the volcanoes awoke and the Home Reef repeatedly oozed lava and ejected plumes of steam and ash.
  • A new island rose above the water surface which was captured by the Operation Land Imager-2. 
  • The plumes of superheated acidic seawater contained particulate matter, volcanic rock fragments and sulphur.
  • The new island is located southwest of Late Island, northeast of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai.

NASA’s observations about such islands:

  • The island created by submarine volcanoes is often-shortlived, though they stay for years.
  • The Home Reef, which sits within the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, has four recorded periods of volcanic eruptions which include events in 1852 and 1857.
  • The small islands that were formed after both the events and later in 1984 and 2006, produced islands with cliffs that were 50-70 metres high. An island was created after a 12-day eruption from the Late'iki Volcano in 2020 but was washed away after two months.

Do you know?

  • Home Reef sits within the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, an area where three tectonic plates are colliding at the fastest converging boundary in the world.
  • The Pacific Plate here is sinking beneath two other small plates, yielding one of Earth’s deepest trenches and most active volcanic arcs.

Subduction Zones

  • Subduction is a process in geology where one tectonic plates slides underneath another one and merges into the Earth’s mantle.
  • The denser plate is the one that slips under the less dense plate; the younger plate is the less dense one. The process is not a smooth one.
  • The tectonic plates grate against each other, which often causes earthquakes.
  • The plate that slips under does not stay that way. Due to the heat caused by it rubbing against the other plate as well as the natural heat of the mantle, the plate melts and turns into magma.
  • The area where subduction occurs is known as the subduction zone.
  • A subduction zone is the biggest crash scene on Earth. These boundaries mark the collision between two tectonic plates.

  • When two tectonic plates meet at a subduction zone, one bends and slides underneath the other, curving down into the mantle, the hotter layer under the crust.

 

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