Eruption creates new island in Red Sea
December 29th, 2011
02:49 PM ET

Eruption creates new island in Red Sea

The Red Sea appears to have a tiny new island, courtesy of an underwater eruption.

The island - essentially lava that cooled after breaking through the water's surface - began forming this month between Yemen and Eritrea among the Zubair archipelago, a group of small islands that come from a submarine shield volcano, according to NASA and the Smithsonian Institution’s Global Volcanism Program.

NASA’s Earth-Observing-1 satellite captured an image (above) showing the new mass with a plume - perhaps volcanic ash and water vapor - rising from it on December 23, NASA’s Earth Observatory website says. The island appeared to be less than one-third of a mile in diameter, according to the Global Volcanism Program.

The image came four days after local news reports said fishermen saw an eruption in the sea, with lava rising up to 90 feet in the air, according to NASA.

The shield volcano from which the Zubair islands stem (the largest of which is 5 kilometers long) last erupted in the 19th century, according to the Global Volcanism Program.

Wordwide, new islands emerge from volcanic eruptions about once every few years, and not all of them survive beyond three years, because waves can break them apart, GVP volcanologist Rick Wunderman said Thursday. It's not clear whether the new Red Sea island will last, but the material that emerges from the Red Sea typically is more structurally sound than other areas, Wunderman said.

"That's usually the (material) that you see in the Red Sea - not so rich in gasses, more able to withstand waves and storms," he said.

People looking for an island getaway might want to keep searching, though. "It'd be hard to live there," Wunderman said. "(Fresh) water, safe harbor, all that kind of stuff would be really quite the challenge."

Wunderman said the central to southern Red Sea has seen plenty of volcanic activity recently, with as many as 10 eruptions in the past five years.

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Filed under: Volcano • Yemen
soundoff (162 Responses)
  1. DjrkB

    Erection creates white island in pink sea

    December 29, 2011 at 2:57 pm | Report abuse |
  2. JonathanL

    Oh WOW Something new to fight over!

    December 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Guy

    I claim this island as my own!

    December 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  4. bob


    December 29, 2011 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  5. edge

    Now that all the evil scientists have arrived, we will start the bidding do I hear 1 meelion dollars. Yes, you with the cat. And do I have.... yes, over there 2 meelion dollars to the gentleman with the prosthesis...

    December 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Report abuse |
  6. SLawrence

    So who owns the land. Can I have it???

    December 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. GOD

    All you young-earth enthusiasts and creationists take note. I had nothing to do with this! This is a natural geological phenomenon for you to witness. Similar events led to formation of Galapagos and Hawaiian Islands - to name two. Once organisms are transported to this island, they will diverge genetically from their parent populations. They will evolve! This will occur naturally, without divine intervention. Enjoy!

    December 29, 2011 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • fred

      True. But remember God, you created all the animals of the Earth and the people in your image. Thanks God !

      December 29, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      two words.. "micro evolution" No "new" species will form.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • duh

      Fred, how could the diverse array of body plans represented by animals conform to any one"image"? I thought you believers purported that MAN was made in god's image, not that centipedes or jellyfish were.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • blubbertongue

      Wait, what? Hey god, like how can you say that? Wait, you're like God. You can like say anything you like want. Whatever....

      December 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • JJ

      @Matthew: What makes up MACRO evolution? Would that be many instances of MICRO evolution? Ummm, yep. The Universe evolves Naturally. God is not controlling it.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew

      Mico evolution is the development of traits within a specific specieis. Longer beeks and the such. Macro would be the delusional leap of frogs to birds. Here are another two words to think about. "Irreducible complexity"

      December 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
    • Nancy

      Matthew. Microevolution is only one word. (For example, when does "micro" stand on its own?) If you acknowledge small evolutionary change - without defining it (but you don't even know how to spell it!) - then there is no defensible objection to large or even huge changes. No one ever proclaimed that frogs evolved into birds. But another kind of amphibian, long extinct, gave rise to reptiles, including birds.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • Matthew Kleisler

      Thank you Nancy for your corrections. I have a cold and am typing things out in a less than thorough manner. Please forgive. My point still stands in light of the argument raised concerning island diversification. My point being, a bird transplanted to a deserted island, given the provisions to procreate and live, will not "evolve" into a new species but will perhaps (if ned be) micro-evolve to adjust to the the environment. If the environment in its current state is not conducive to its existence, it will die off. Again,forgive the grammar. I think I am running a fever. LOL

      December 29, 2011 at 4:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fred

    Mine ! Mine ! Mine ! I claim this land in the name of ME !

    December 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rob F

      I am the new God of this land. I shall be known as Me.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mavvv

    This is because the Mayan people KNEW about planets aligning and pulling at earth crust. Sheeple this aint nothing until California opens up Dec 2012. One year to go.......then DIE !

    December 29, 2011 at 3:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bill

      You're freakin' re-tarded.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • 1RingyDingy

      You looking forward to going ?

      December 29, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • troll

      You're trolling, right? I do the same thing myself sometimes: Make some completely uninformed statement designed to anger people who think logically and get that angry reaction that we trolls treasure. You're a bit too obvious.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  10. soicanleavecommentsonblogs

    When can I move in?

    December 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • john

      still being renovated

      December 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Andreas Moser

    Usually when something happens in the Red Sea, people blame the Mossad:

    December 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Report abuse |
  12. racer x

    That's just part of the earth that God created in six days. We just never noticed it before.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Sarah


    December 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • blubbertongue

      Oh Sarah. That was like totally nasty. You should like watch what you like say. Like God reads this and like posted a good explanation before. He's gonna get you.

      December 29, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • TruthSerum

      Sarah, you have a Hebrew name. Just thought you should know.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. The Watcher

    U.S.A. is not interested, no oil.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JJ

    Sarah, you know your name means Princess is Hebrew?

    December 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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