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)


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

    I wonder who will attempt to claim ownership of this land.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Timetraveler

      You must have missed my earlier post. I now own it. It's a done deal.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ME

    Lets put Casey Anthony on this island.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • ME2

      Are you crazy? Did you not read the article. Its an active volcano. The fire would burn her and damage her perfect skin.

      December 29, 2011 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Project out of bounds

    December 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
  5. you know who...

    can i put my ex on it?

    December 29, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • I know

      which ex? you know you have a lot of them in your closet...

      December 29, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kishore

    I can see this island from my backyard.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Report abuse |
  7. H. P. Lovecraft

    I was off my meds when I wrote that story. Sorry. All better now.

    December 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Report abuse |
  8. pattyo27

    What? The earth NATURALLY builds itself? Geez, this should make those silly creationists cry. Ha! In your faces!

    December 29, 2011 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • STLBroker

      Yep, that explains it. A volcano can create an uninhabitable island. Therefore there could not possibly be a creator of the entire universe and everything in it.

      I don't think we are at the point of disproving God quite yet. Nor do I think we will ever get there. On the contrary, the more we learn, the more it points to there BEING a God.

      December 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Report abuse |
  9. red1

    Would enjoy reading everyone's comments more if the spiteful comments were less. Reminds me of high school-kindergarten. Oh forgot this is America. Have fun!

    December 29, 2011 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Nation moving

    Let it cool down a little and then claim it for Israel. Sort of a nest egg so they'll always have a place to call home.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:05 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Moses

    Check the rubble for chariot wheels. They might be covered with coral, but they're down there somewhere. Ancient Egyptians made them out of brass, and the ones datiing back to the parting of the Red Sea had four spokes. You'll know 'em when you spot 'em online right now.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Thanks Evo!

    I like how evolution gave the human of the animal species a memory capacity that would take millions of encyclopedia volumes to fill and thousands of years just to input the data. Other animals use all they got just to survive. Thanks Evo.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Little Susie

    DeAr mR. EvoLushuN. tHankx foR nOt MakinG FLoweRs sMeLL LikE pOoP. LuV, Susie.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  14. John Boy

    My physics teacher says that Albert Einstein only used a small portion of his brain's capacity. Good thing evolution gave him so much extra. What for I don't know. Didn't do it for other animals. And as far as survival of species go, evolution kind of cheated for people. Give that kind of extra brain capacity and just a few years to use it to T-Rex and see what happens. T-Rex with eyeglasses. Scary.

    December 29, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Evo

    Evolution put *Forever* in your minds? No? Then where did you get that idea? And why are you living as if there's no tomorrow? Living for now. What about forever? Did Evolution giveth and taketh away?

    December 29, 2011 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
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