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‘Baby’ island appears in Pacific Ocean after underwater volcano erupts

<i>Lauren Dauphin/NASA Earth Observatory</i><br/>The tiny island appeared in central Tongo after an underwater volcano erupted earlier this month.
Lauren Dauphin/NASA Earth Observatory
The tiny island appeared in central Tongo after an underwater volcano erupted earlier this month.

By Zoe Sottile, CNN

The Central Tonga Islands welcomed the birth of a new baby — a baby island, that is.

The new baby island emerged in the southwest Pacific Ocean, where underwater volcanoes are plentiful. One of these submerged volcanoes awoke on September 10, spewing lava, steam, and ash, according to a statement from the NASA Earth Observatory.

Just eleven hours after the volcano began to erupt, a new island had emerged above the water’s surface, says NASA, which captured images of the nascent island with satellites.

The newborn island grew quickly in size, according to NASA. On September 14, researchers at Tonga Geological Services estimated the island covered just 4,000 square meters — around one acre.

But by September 20, the island had grown to cover 24,000 square meters, or around 6 acres.

The new island sits on the Home Reef seamount in the Central Tonga Islands, southwest of the archipelago’s Late Island.

You might not want to get too attached to the baby island: islands created by underwater volcanoes “are often short-lived,” says NASA. But sometimes the ephemeral islands can persist for years or even decades.

The Home Reef volcano was still erupting as of Friday, according to a Facebook post from the Tonga Geological Services. But the volcano’s activity “poses low risks to the Aviation Community and the residents of Vava’u and Ha’apai,” two island groups in central Tonga.

“No visible ash in the past 24 hours was reported,” added the agency. “All Mariners are advised to sail beyond 4km away from Home Reef until further notice.”

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