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10 Aug, 2012 09:51

Belgium-sized rocky mass adrift off New Zealand (VIDEO)

A gigantic raft of volcanic pumice pebbles has been spotted floating off the coast of New Zealand. The brilliant white rock mass is made of thousands of golf-ball-sized stones, believed to have been belched forth from an underwater volcano.

Tim Oscar, a lieutenant with the New Zealand navy who was one of the first to set eyes on the volcanic phenomenon said it was the “weirdest thing” he had seen in 18 years at sea.HMNZS Canterbury was the first to discover the pebbly mass 85 nautical miles south-west of Raoul Island on Thursday night. The ship’s lookout reported a strange shadow on the ocean’s surface and called for the ship’s spotlight to be trained in the area.It illuminated a brilliant white sheet that stretched as far as the eye could see.  “It looked exactly like the edge of an ice shelf," said Oscar.The nautical wonder measures 250 nautical miles in length and 30 nautical miles wide is roughly the size of Belgium.HMNZS Canterbury is currently ferrying scientists to the roiling raft to carry out tests on the rocks to ascertain which volcano they were expelled from. Despite the raft’s enormous size, New Zealand officials have assured that it poses no threat to ships in the area.