HONOLULU (KHON2) — A seafloor ridge located in the southwest Pacific Ocean that stretches from New Zealand to Tonga has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world, according to NASA Earth Observatory, and on Sept. 10, one of them awoke.
The Home Reef seamount in the Central Tonga Islands has been oozing lava since then. Eleven hours after the eruption began, a new island surfaced.
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The Tonga Geological Services reported that the new island continued to grow through Sept. 20, covering approximately 24,000 square meters (6 acres).
“The volcano activity poses low risks to the Aviation Community and the residents of Vava‘u and Ha‘apai,” Tonga Geological Services said in a statement issued on Sept. 22. “No visible ash in the past 24 hours was reported. All Mariners are advised to sail beyond 4km away from Home Reef until further notice.”
According to NASA, islands created by submarine volcanoes are often short-lived, though they occasionally persist for years. For example, an island created by a 12-day eruption from nearby Late‘iki Volcano in 2020 washed away after two months, while an island created in 1995 by the same volcano remained for over two decades.
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There have been four recorded periods of eruptions at Home Reef, with small islands forming. Click here to follow updates on the new island.