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. kinglywarrior

    I got Dibs!

    December 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jack's Beard

    It's an island with a giant smoke monster. We have to go BAAAACCCKKKK!!!

    December 29, 2011 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Christian

      You win the prize of the day son....

      December 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • Locke

      Forget the island... let me have a crack at the hatch.

      December 30, 2011 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |

    DAMMIT!!! Brad and Angelina juss adopted it!!

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

    Cool... Dr. Evil's lair is now known. 🙂

    December 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. kgt

    I am being seeing it first, and I am being claiming it in the name of Allah for using it for the destruction of the great western devil.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • F(_)ck Islam

      Come back when you learn some English.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  6. orange clown

    Eearth is making new places for people to live all by it's self. Now we don't have to worry about finding new planets to live on.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Major Tom

      It's too bad earth can't teach m0r0ns who failed 5th grade English basic grammar.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  7. HPL

    Finally, the stars are right!
    "Ph'nglui Mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!"

    December 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • confused

      Nem tudom, milyen nyelven van a gépelés, de a Google Translate szerint ez halandzsa.

      December 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Enlightened

      HPL is making a reference to a famous horror story that involved (in part) an island rising from the sea...
      Translator bots will not recognize the language.... but if you just google the phrase itself you'll get the answer.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BOMBO

    The archipelago is part of Yemen, so it's their island. I looked it up. Sorry to spoil the fun.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. The Ref

    Charles and Dan – incapable of recognizing sarcasm. Maybe there's a support group for you. Bring along vlad and Mr Bean.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Pliny the Elder

    Don't you just love that new volcano smell?

    December 29, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Trin

    Wonder if this will effect the water levels around the edges of the sea?

    December 29, 2011 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Julie

    Wow – someone must've worked overtime hunting down the worst picture possible of this. It'd be nice if you could see stuff like the water, or sky... or the little island... It just looks like a plume of white smoke against darkness.
    Maybe it's supposed to be lite an illustration for one of the first few days from Genesis?
    Worthless pic.

    December 29, 2011 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  13. JesusIsNotReal

    Nonsense! Jesus has created this island out of nothing!!! Worship him!!!

    December 29, 2011 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jesus

      Yes, it is true my sheep. Worship ME!!!! NOW OR I WILL SMITE YOU like you have never been smitten before. (Translated from Aramaic)

      December 30, 2011 at 6:53 am | Report abuse |
  14. Timetraveler


    December 29, 2011 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • John


      December 29, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Omen

    $300. $50 on left $50 $50 on the right. Last time $350. sold! to me for $300!.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • TheBob

      Congratulations! I take cash, credit card and PayPal. The deed will be transferred to you as soon as I receive payment.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
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