Tonga is seeing a birth of a new island. A volcano erupting for over a month in the ocean about 65 kilometres (40 miles) north-west of the capital, Nuku’alofa, has resulted in the creation of this new island.
To better examine the situation, New Zealand volcanologist Nico Fournier, working for New Zealand agency GNS Science, travelled to the site on Saturday. According to Fournier, newly born island that measures nearly 1.8 kilometres by 1.5 kilometres in dimension is mainly made up of loose scoria.
“It’s quite an exciting site, you get to see the birth of an island,” he said. “Visually it was quite spectacular, but there was no big sound coming with it, no boom. It was a bit eerie.”
However, island hasn’t erupted to the fullest yet, once the volcano stops erupting, it will take another few months for the island to erode completely from the ocean, he said. For biodiversity to groom on the isle, it needs to be made up of lava or something durable to support the life cycle.
Further, Fournier said that the volcano was sending a belching steam that consisted of a small amount of ash into the atmosphere, but wasn’t more than 2 kilometres high. However, it was high enough to disrupt the flight routes. Routes of the many international flights were altered as officials feared that the ash entering in the engine is a severe threat. Volcanic ash entering through the engine vents causes the aircraft to stall.
Ocean around the island is fairly shallow with a depth ranging from 100 metres to 200 metres.
In addition, there have been speculations on the naming of the island, to which Fournier boldly said that all the naming rights fall under Tsonga’s King, Tupou VI. Probably naming of the newly born island will be done on the name of its current king.