Welcome to the Pacific, new island! What should we name you? Satellite images show volcanic activity in the ocean raised a new plot of land above the ocean’s surface. And it isn’t the first time the island kingdom of Tonga got a new addition. This one emerged on Home Reef, a seamount with ongoing volcanic activity. Satellites overhead are tracking the island’s growth since it debuted on September 10. With a few days, the Tonga Geological Services estimated it to be one acre in size. A week later, it had grown to 8.6 acres and is still going.
Islands formed this way don’t always stick around, some get washed away. Only time will tell what happens to this one. We saw the image above, from NASA’s Earth Observatory thanks to Futurism. It shows a small dark island amongst a discolored patch of ocean. The green coloration surrounding it is the result of all the new material in the water. And a trail of smoke emanates from the still-erupting volcano.
The Tonga Geological Services Facebook account is sharing daily updates. So far the eruption isn’t disrupting any nearby islands. In the time lapse photos below, you can see the new Pacific island emerge. In fact, once the volcano erupted, it only took 11 hours before it breached the ocean’s surface. You can see the discoloration rising to the surface in the days before the eruption. It’s an early sign of volcanic activity. When a different island emerged in Tonga in 2006, a bunch of pumice stone floated on the ocean surface.
In recent years, scientists have discovered other unchartered islands, ones revealed due to melting glaciers. Oceanographers studying the Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica named a previously unknown pile of rocks Sif Island after the Norse goddess of Earth and, in mythology if not the MCU, Thor’s wife.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.