Giant volcanic rock raft found in Pacific Ocean

Published: Aug 26, 2019, 12:41 IST | mid-day online correspondent

A vast "raft" of volcanic rocks stretching over 150 sq.km has been found drifting through the Pacific Ocean, scientists said

This image has been used for representational purpose
This image has been used for representational purpose

Canberra: Scientists on Monday said that a vast "raft" of volcanic rocks stretching over 150 sq.km has been found drifting through the Pacific Ocean. The sea of pumice is the size of 20,000 football fields which was first reported by Australian sailors earlier in August. Pumice is a lightweight, bubble-rich rock that can float in water. It is produced when magma is cooled rapidly.

According to experts, the mass has likely come from an underwater volcano near Tonga which erupted around August 7 as seen in the satellite images. In that case, sailors have been warned to stay clear of the potential hazard.

The first to report the "pumice raft", after inadvertently entering the rubble at night were an Australian couple sailing their catamaran to Fiji. They have since sent samples of the pumice stone - which range "from marble to basketball size" - to researchers at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia.

A report in news agency IANS revealed that Associate Professor Scott Bryan, a geologist studying the samples at QUT, said such pumice masses could be seen about once every five years in the region. "It is a phenomenon reported over time, usually as islands in the middle of the ocean that people encounter but then can't find again. It can be as if the whole surface (of the ocean) has turned to land. The pumice is currently drifting westwards towards Fiji, and is likely to pass New Caledonia and Vanuatu before potentially reaching Australia in a year's time.

Edited by mid-day online desk with inputs from PTI

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