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. Tyler

    dibs times iInfinity plus 1!

    December 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  2. kurtstallings

    How long before countries go to war over who gets to pass the laws about what you aren't allowed to do on that island?

    December 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DeeNYC

    China already claimed it.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jack

    The island isn't new, it just moves around. That's how Jacob likes it.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  5. BOMBO

    Moses's fault.

    December 29, 2011 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mac

    You mean this didn't take "millions" of years to form.......what are the evolutionists going to think.......

    December 29, 2011 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      you are an idiot. Obviously land doesnt take millions of years to form, do you think magma just stays hot forever?

      December 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • vlad

      WOW! You should really read some books and not be ignorant. Volcanoes don't take millions of years to grow. Even a 5th grader knows that.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Mac, I am sure that you didn't do that well in science class. Go read that fairy tale book called the bible.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • matt

      aside from this comment being totally stupid...

      Volcanoes can and do sometimes take millions of years to form. The volcanoes of the Cascades, and many of the ring of fire stratovolcanoes do take a while to build. What occurred in Yemen is what is called a "monogenetic cinder cone" meaning it erupts once, and once only. It is not a tall volcano, like the ones in California.

      But rather than make fun of you, Mac, I'll gladly explain the link between submarine volcanoes and evolution. Submarine volcanoes are like Earth's chemistry set, combining many chemicals at high heat levels. Sometimes this can result in a reaction that creates a new form of cellular life dependent on chemosynthesis. All forms of life at their very base use chemicals to create motile energy. Some species of life forms like plants evolve to incorporate solar radiation as a food source.

      Hopefully you are now caught up with the last three decades of research. Now, put the bible down, and go watch some Bill Nye.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Sad day

    What if Mayans were correct about December 21, 2012?

    December 29, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      Yeah, that really did a lot of damage.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mr. Bean

    Mac, you sir, are a moron. Explain to me precisely, what exactly evolutionary theory has to do with island formation as a result of volcanic activity?

    December 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Charles

      He has no idea, thats the point. He believes in his god machine, thats about it.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dan

      He has no idea how it formed so his god must have made it.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:17 pm | Report abuse |
  9. nomorebeer

    Better put a cork in the hole. Looks like we are causing climate change again. Must be the fault of the USA.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Philips

      Let's put a cork in the hole to stop these ridiculous comments.

      January 26, 2012 at 1:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Bates

    Since its conception, the USA has laid claim to the island, raised the taxes on everything while failing to create new jobs. The new island state has since gone bankrupt and plans to recede back into the sea in the coming years.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. nomorebeer

    We need a new tax so Washington and the United Nations can regulate the emissions of these pollution causing eruptions.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Gerald Farrow

    Hmmmm, I wonder how long before the USA starts a war there.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Almost There

    Can I have it? I need a place to live.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dunloper

      I promise if you go there right now, you will be the only one living there. No need to ask.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Dan

    I would like it but it's in a bad neighborhood.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Mr Unknown

    Another Habitat Island for Muslim to claim!!

    December 29, 2011 at 4:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robbo

      You reply is insulting. Can't you just simply acknowlegde the power and beauty of nature instead of making stupid comments.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
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