The Home Reef underwater volcano in the Central Tonga Islands woke up last September 10 oozing lava repeatedly, expelling plumes of steam and ash and giving rise to a new island in the world. This was captured from space by NASA satellites.
According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), 11 hours after the eruption began, a new island rose above the surface of the water. However, it was not until September 14 that the Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) in Landsat 9 captured a natural color view of the young island as columns of discolored water circulated nearby.
- Previous research suggests that plumes of superheated, acidic seawater contain particulate matter, fragments of volcanic rock, and sulfur.
The new island is located southwest of Late Island, northeast of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai and northwest of Mo’unga’one, and, according to POTfor this same day, the researchers of the Geological Survey of Tonga they estimated that the area of the island had an area of four thousand square meters and an elevation of 10 meters above sea level.
By September 20, the volcano had erupted eight times in the last two days while the island had grown to cover 24 thousand square meters.
- Islands created by underwater volcanoes are usually short-lived, although they sometimes persist for years.
This is not the first time that this underwater volcano has erupted and created new islands, according to experts, Home Reef has had four recorded periods of eruptionsincluding the events of 1852 and 1857, which caused small temporary islands to form, while the 1984 and 2006 eruptions produced ephemeral islands with cliffs 50 to 70 meters high.
According to geologists of Tonga, “The volcano poses low risks to the aviation community and the residents of Vava’u and Ha’apai. However, all boaters are advised to pilot more than four kilometers away from the underwater volcano, Home Reef, until further notice.
Furthermore, they noted that most of the ash should fall within a few kilometers of the vent.
Underwater volcano of Tonga, what is known?
Home Reef is located within the Tonga-Kermadec subduction zone, an area where three tectonic plates collide at the world’s convergence boundary. The Pacific Plate here is sinking beneath two other small plates, producing one of the deepest trenches on Earth and volcanic arcs.