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New Island Red Sea

January 2, 2012 by staff 

New Island Red SeaNew Island Red Sea, NASA has announced, a new island has appeared off the west coast of Yemen following a volcanic eruption. The new island is forming in the Red Sea in the Zubair archipelago resulting from a volcanic activity as lava is cooled by the surrounding seawater and solidifies.

“The underwater volcano behind the formation is located on the Red Sea Rift, where the African and Arabian tectonic plates are slowly pulling apart,” New Scientist reported.

On December 19, fishermen working off the west coast of Yemen reported a 30-meter (90-ft.) fountain of lava bursting forth from the Red Sea, amid a group of small islands known as the Zubair Group.

NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer aboard its Terra and Aqua satellites and NASA’s Advanced Land Imager aboard its Earth Observing One satellite, detected ash plumes. The US space agency’s Earth Observatory posted satellite photos showing a plume of white smoke rising from the ocean near the Zubair group of islands in the Red Sea on Dec 23.

“The image from December 2011 shows an apparent island where there had previously been an unbroken water surface,” the observatory said in a statement.

By 23 December, the lava mass had broken the water’s surface and the new island had begun to take shape. The island is currently around 500m wide and is still growing.

New islands are created by undersea volcanoes every few years, but many are not strong enough to withstand the wind and waves of the open sea, volcanologist Rick Wunderman told on Thursday.

The question now is whether the new island has staying power. It may continue to grow significantly as volcanic activity continues, or the fragile lava mass may be broken up by the action of the sea’s waves. Rick Wunderman added, however, that the volcanic material in the Red Sea tends to be more durable.

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