New island created in Tonga volcanic eruption

FILE PHOTO: Smoke is seen after an underwater volcano erupted in Hunga Ha'apai, Tonga March 18, 2009.(Reuters / Matangi Tonga)
A volcanic eruption taking place in the Pacific archipelago of Tonga has created a new island, though scientists say it could soon sink back into the ocean.

The volcano has been erupting for approximately a month in the ocean, 65 kilometers northwest of Tonga’s capital, Nukualofa, located on the main island of Tongatapu.

The island, which has not yet been named, is around 1.8 kilometers by 1.5 kilometers and rises around 100 meters above the sea.

“It's quite an exciting site, you get to see the birth of an island. Visually it was quite spectacular, but there was no big sound coming with it, no boom. It was a bit eerie,” said Nico Fournier, a New Zealand volcanologist, reported AP.

When the volcano stops erupting, the ocean will likely erode the Island in just a few months, as it is made mainly of loose scoria and not lava, which is much more durable. The ocean around the new island is fairly shallow, up to 200 meters deep.

Fournier added that the volcano was mainly emitting steam and that the small amount of ash it was emitting was rising only around 2 kilometers into the air.

As a result of the ash, flights in the vicinity of the Pacific archipelago were halted for several days last week.