It’s time to come together as humanity and welcome the newest island on the face of the Earth.
After an underwater volcano in the southwest Pacific Ocean awoke on September 10th and began oozing lava out of its cone, the new land slowly built up until 6 acres of volcanic rock had solidified.
Home Reef Island is situated on a seafloor ridge stretching from New Zealand to Tonga that has the highest density of underwater volcanoes in the world.
The eruption of the Home Reef seamount volcano, located in the Central Tonga Islands ejected plumes of steam and ash that discolored the surrounding water.
The Operational Land Imager-2 (OLI-2) on NASA’s Landsat 9 satellite captured a natural-color view of the young island four days after the eruption.
Researchers with Tonga Geological Services estimated the area of the island to be 1 acre, or around 4,000 square meters, with an elevation to be a dry 33 feet above sea level.
By September 20th, the island had grown to cover to 6 acres, or around 24,000 square meters. By September 23rd, it was reported to have reached 8 acres in size.
“The volcano poses low risks to the aviation community and the residents of Vava‘u and Ha‘apai,” the Tonga Geological Service said in an update issued on September 20th. “All mariners are, however, advised to sail beyond 4 kilometers away from Home Reef until further notice.”
Landsat 9 is an Earth observation satellite launched on 27 September 2021 from Vandenberg Space Force Base.
Since record keeping began on such things, 30 islands have appeared through a mixture of submarine volcanism, glacial retreat, and storms. The earliest such record was Ferdinandea Island off the coast of Sicily, which emerged in 1831, but which sunk beneath the waves again by 1832.
Tonga and Japan are tied for each having gained 4 islands since that time. However due to the volatile nature of their birth, some of these islands have, like Ferdinandea, since disappeared.
Home Reef has erupted three times in modern volcanology, each time building an island. The first washed away, the second made a tiny spit of land, but this new one seems more permanent.