A team of researchers has managed to solve the mystery of a massive raft of volcanic rock that surfaced in the Pacific Ocean several months ago. The mass of pumice was generated by the eruption of an underwater volcano, which took place at a distance of 50 kilometers (31 miles) away from the coast of the Vava’u Tongan Island. It was spotted with the help of satellite imagery on August 8th and is now heading towards Australia.
A team of researchers has also resorted to satellite imagery to track down the source of the floating rock. The Sentinel-2 satellite operated by the European Space Agency captured images of spectacular eruption plumes ON August 6.
The unusual smoke rings floated above a submarine volcano that is a part of the Tofua volcanic arc, a series of volcanoes that are placed on the border of a tectonic plate that moves underneath another plate. The volcano has been classified under the name of Volcano F by the researchers.
The origin of the great mass of pumice heading towards Australia found
A significant amount of valuable information was collected from seismic monitoring sections, which track earthquakes. In many cases, volcanic activity is followed by seismic activity. A significant downside is represented by the fact that a small number of regions are present in this region, and only two stations managed to record signals related to a volcanic eruption. Further research showed that the data infers that Volcano F was the origin.
The same team explored the seafloor around the volcano from December 2018 to January 2019. They discovered an impressive volcanic caldera with an approximate size of 8 by 6 kilometers (or five by 3.7 miles) at a depth of 700 meters (2,290 feet) below the surface.
Pumice is a type of rock that is highly porous while also having a low density. It forms during volcanic eruptions when hot lava is cooled and depressurized, leading to a frothing effect. The pumice raft is heading towards the Great Reef Barrier.