All through the last few days of 2014, a violent plume of smoke rose up over 9 kilometers (30,000 ft) into the skies above the South Pacific. Inside the following weeks, satellites noticed that the underwater volcanic eruption had actually spawned a model new island between two older islands inside the Kingdom of Tonga. The island has been nicknamed by locals Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai.
Not too way back scientists from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and NASA stepped foot on the toddler island and have been blissful to see the black volcanic land mass is already residence to a thriving ecosystem, full with pink flowering vegetation, nesting sooty tern birds, and barn owls.
“We have been all like giddy school children,” Dr. Dan Slayback, a researcher at NASA, instructed the NASA Earth Expedition weblog about arriving on the island.
Whereas the island’s natural curiosities are truly an attraction, the workforce primarily made the go-to for the geology. Most new islands born from volcanic eruptions solely ultimate quite a few months sooner than falling once more into the ocean, so researchers initially anticipated the identical for Hunga Tonga. Nonetheless, they’re now pretty certain the island is proper right here to stay, making it one in all solely three new islands inside the ultimate 150 years which have survived longer than quite a few months.
Dan and his workforce collected a wide range of rock samples for mineral analysis to get a higher understanding of its geology and the best way it could also be affected by future erosion from the daring Pacific waves. It’s also hoped this unusual otherworldly place would possibly current an unprecedented take a look at how geological forces begin to kind new land heaps, even maybe providing clues in regards to the geological historic previous of Mars.
“Most of it is this black gravel, I gained identify it sand pea-sized gravel and we’re principally sporting sandals so it’s pretty painful because of it will get beneath your foot,” he acknowledged. “[But] Immediately I type of noticed it wasn’t pretty as flat as a result of it seems from the satellite tv for pc television for the laptop.”