Nature has this remarkable gift of creation that surprises both scientists and commoners every time it does so. One instance of this complex ability was on display recently in the Pacific Ocean, where earth created a brand new island in a matter of a few days.
The science and other stuff to know
The event took place near Home Reef, a volcanic island atop a submarine volcano in Tonga. The southwest seafloor of the Pacific Ocean has a ridge that stretches from New Zealand to Tonga and has the highest density of underwater volcanoes. One of them erupted on September 10, 2022, as reported by NASA’s Earth Observatory, sending ash and steam over a vast distance.
Volcanoes often lie on the boundaries of the Earth’s tectonic plates and are formed as a result of collision, or movement of adjacent plates relative to each other. The location of the island’s formation was the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, which lies at the confluence of three tectonic plates colliding at the fastest converging boundary in the world.
As the latest eruption took place on September 10, observers noticed an island emerging from the ocean after just 11 hours. The island grew to a size covering an acre by September 14, and by the 20th, it covered an area of roughly six acres.
As awe-inspiring a spectacle as it might be, volcanic eruptions and the ensuing formation of islands provide key indicators about the health of the Earth in general and the region of volcanic activity in particular. The eruptions are a research opportunity many scientists long to explore.
Furthermore, they become a rich source of minerals that can be used in a variety of applications. But, more importantly, they provide scientists with critical data for studying volcanic activity and understanding the patterns and environment’s response to these massive events. Researchers are able to predict trends and devise methodologies that are critical for the safety of hundreds of thousands of people who are vulnerable to volcanic activity by keeping a close eye on these incidents.
While scientific equipment has come a long way in predicting volcanic activities, they are still far from being perfect. Scientists rely much on patterns and behaviors that precede eruptions to predict emergencies, and occurrences like the recent one in the Pacific Ocean only add to existing information.
Moreover, the formation of islands is the perfect opportunity to study materials spit out by the Earth and make informed decisions about our planet and its health.
Forecasts of volcanic eruptions, if accurate, bring great relief to communities affected by an eruption, but when they are not, they incur great costs to people who leave behind homes, farms, and livestock.
Such incidents, hopefully, provide key information that could hopefully pave the way for an improved warning system.