Life is fleeting, even if you're an island of volcanic ash.
If you feel yourself getting attached to that new island that sprouted from the Pacific Ocean's waters spare yourself the agony. This isn't the first time that this sort of thing has happened in the area — and according to the experts, they tend to be a bit of a flight risk.
To recap, this still-nameless new "island" appeared as the result of an underwater volcanic eruption. The active volcano, located on the Home Reef seamount — a stretch of sub-ocean mountains that line the ocean floor between New Zealand and Tonga — began its eruption on September 10, and the isle in question started to appear shortly thereafter. It's since grown to be roughly 8.6 acres, or about the size of 6.5 average-sized football fields.
But sadly, this oceanic baby isle is likely to be only a fleeting addition to our maps. Ah, mortality.
The first recorded Home Reef eruption occurred back in 1852, which, according to The Washington Post, resulted in a similar — and temporary — island mass. Five years later, there was another eruption, and thus another fleeting island. Eruptions in 1984 and 2006 continued the same pattern: a volcano erupts, an "island" forms, and the island disappears.
"Islands created by submarine volcanoes," reads the NASA press release, "are often short-lived."
Unfortunately, there's not very much structural integrity to these ephemeral oceanic oddities. They're largely ash and minerals, so erosion chips away at them pretty easily — humans couldn't even walk on them if we wanted to. And while some have stuck around for as long as 25 years, most only last a few years, or maybe even just a few months.
"It's more like a large layer of ash, steam and pumice over the ocean," Rennie Vaiomounga, a geologist at Tonga Geological Services, told The Washington Post. Referring to these strange little isles as "geological [puzzles]," he added: "we never know when the [islands] will appear or when it will disappear."
Though it's strange to think of an island as something ephemeral, these fleeting additions to the Earth aren't traditional landmasses. And if anything, our newest baby volcano isle might serve as a reminder that our Earth itself is more than just a rock. It's still growing, changing, and transforming, much like the greater cosmos itself — and in our humble opinion, that's pretty damn cool.
READ MORE: A volcano in Tonga birthed a new island. Consider it limited edition. [The Washington Post]
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