An Amazing New Pacific Island Emerges in Tonga

Planet Earth is constantly shifting and changing: oceans are created and destroyed; mountains are formed under the sea, but then lifted up to great heights. In general, we humans aren’t aware of these shifts, as they take place over millions of years. However, last month the people of Tonga experienced just how geologically dynamic the earth is, as an ongoing volcanic eruption under the ocean created a new cone-shaped island about 40 miles northwest of Tonga’s capital, Nukualofa.

Specifically, experts believe that a volcano exploded underwater and then expanded until an island formed.

Tonga is a Polynesian sovereign state and archipelago comprising 177 islands with a total surface area of about 290 square miles, scattered over 270,000 square miles of the southern Pacific Ocean. Fifty two islands are inhabited by its 103,000 people, and seventy percent of Tongans reside on the main island of Tongatapu.

The new island is about one mile long, eight tenths of a mile wide, and rises over 300 feet above the sea–and it is still growing.

You can see the first amazing photographs of this newly formed island by clicking here. They were taken by G.P. Orbassano, a local man who, along with two others, climbed to the peak of the new land mass earlier this month. Apparently the surface was still hot and the green lake in the crater smelt strongly of sulphur. “It was a perfect day, with fantastic views – bright blue sky and the sea was the same colour as the sky,” Orbassano told Tonga’s Matangi Online.

Orbassano said he believed the island was high enough for it to remain for some time, and potentially attract tourists. “There are thousands of seabirds – all kinds, laying eggs on the island,” he said. This is by no means the first area to witness such an amazing event.

On November 20, 2013, an island of approximately 600 feet in diameter emerged 600 miles south of Tokyo, Japan, in the Ogasawara Islands. This new island, originally called Niijima, was created by volcanic activity along the western edge of the Pacific ‘Ring of Fire.’ A month later, NASA images revealed that the newly formed island had tripled in size. In fact, it kept growing so much that it “ate up” its neighboring island, Nishino-shima, which had formed in 1973. The two islands merged in December 2013. Since then, the island has started producing its own weather, and lava flows have transformed bays into lakes.

Another example of this amazing phenomenon happened recently in Pakistan. You may remember that the country experienced a devastating 7.7 earthquake in September, 2013. After the shaking stopped, the people of Gwadar, on the Balochistan coast, were amazed to see that three new islands had emerged from the Arabian Sea.

Earthquakes and volcanic activity clearly played their part in producing these dramatic changes. The newly emerging islands are also a stunning reminder that our planet is definitely alive, and always shifting!

Photo Credit: Thinkstock.

56 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallus4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Mary B.
Mary B4 years ago

Maybe Earth needs to blow out some molton lava so some of the extra sea water from ice cap melt can flow in to keep the crust stable, and we could also use some new land to hold the extra people. Hopefully, the new race that can live in harmony with our beloved planet. Not all who live here are exploiters. Make a choice, or the choice will be made for you. Either by the Earth, her macrobial populations or your fellow humans.

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Jennifer H.
Jennifer H4 years ago

What an amazing event. I noticed that the pre pics the islands were nice and green and the after pics all islands were barron! I find this even fascinating. Thanks for sharing.

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Nikki Davey
Nikki Davey4 years ago

The Earth isn't static.

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Georgina Elizab McAlliste
.4 years ago

ty

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Maggie Welch
Maggie D4 years ago

Can you read through my bad typing? If they do want habitation on the little island...

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Maggie Welch
Maggie D4 years ago

I hope it survives but if they it to habitable the little seland the last thing they should do is have tourists walking all over it destroying the chances for life to emerge. The pictures are amazing.

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Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege4 years ago

Thank you.

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M Quann
M Q4 years ago

Thank you.

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Robert O.
Robert O4 years ago

How interesting and remarkable. Long may it thrive.

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