A large volcanic rock form has floated across the ocean to Australia


A vast fleet of floating rocks from an underwater volcano in the Pacific Ocean floated in waves for thousands of miles. Eventually, it made its way all the way to Australia, then embarked on a new project: reviving the world’s largest (and very threatened) coral mural system.

This unexpected series of events may seem somewhat unbelievable, but it is a completely true story – one that has played out dramatically over the past year, while surprising, largely unseen ways in which the Earth’s natural eco-system is one another. Differentiates with

Stranger still, this is not the first time this has happened. An eruption from the same submarine Seamount in 2001 – an unnamed volcano, volcano f or 0403-091, located near the Wavu Islands in Tonga – produced a similar rocky flotilla that also traveled over currents on Australia’s space Was. year.

When this event occurs, it produces what is called a pumice raft – a floating platform made up of countless quantities of buoyant and highly porous volcanic rock.

Each of these small rocks attract marine creatures, including algae, barnacles, corals, and more. These small travelers finally stop a ride out to sea, and they can help seed and endangered coral systems to their final destination: for many, the Great Barrier Reef.

“Each piece of pumice has its own small community, which has been transported to the world’s oceans – and we have trillions after this explosion,” says geologist Scott Bryan of the University of Technology at Queenson in Australia.

“Each piece of Pumice is a home, and a vehicle for an organism, and it is just tremendous. The sheer number of individuals and species of this diversity is being transported thousands of kilometers in just a few months which is actually Is quite unprecedented. ”

Brian knows a thing or two about these pumice migration. He has been studying volcanic rafts for 20 years, investigating the 2001 eruption, its 2019 successor (which began washing off Australian shores in April), and other underwater eruptions as well.

His most recent study, published last month, examined the 2012 eruption of the Havre Seamount, also in the South Pacific – estimated to be the largest underwater volcanic eruption ever, roughly. The equivalent of the most powerful volcanic eruption on land in the 20th century.

That event led to huge raids of pumice rock that ended the spread over an area twice the size of New Zealand – in addition to equaling seaweed with giant chunks the size of vans.

Geologist Scott Bryan with Pumice Rock. (QUT)

“We don’t understand why some pumice drown during an eruption at the location and others can float for several months and years,” Bryan says, but further analysis may fill in the gaps. .

“This will help us understand the mechanism and dynamics of these explosive eruptions and better understand why these explosions produce potentially dangerous eruptive rafts.”

Potentially dangerous is correct. Last year’s eruption from Volcano F produced some spectacular videos, which resemble the cradle in these giant rafts, which resemble pieces of giant oil, made only of upward floating rocks that last forever She goes.

These real, floating formations are not inherently dangerous on their own, but may have the potential to damage boats, and in some circumstances smooth the beach, as in another video for this year.

For now, though, the researchers hope the latest delivery of Volcano F will do something good from Australia’s coastline to the Great Barrier Reef, which is surrounded by coral bleaching as the world’s oceans warm due to climate change is.

Although organisms carried on the reef’s flotilla can help replenish the reef’s ecosystem, scientists are eager to emphasize that they are not a silver bullet.

“The pumice raft is not going to help mitigate the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef,” says Brian.

“It’s about the growth of new recruits, new corals and other reef-building organisms that occur every two years. It’s almost like a vitamin pill for the Great Barrier Reef.”

And possibly much further. The 2019 Pumice fleet – which measured around 20,000 football fields a year ago in size – can now be found all the way from north of Queensland to northern New South Wales, from Townsville to the Australian east coast: over 1,300 kilometers of coastline is spreading.

It is a vast sprawl, which stems from a single event beyond the horizon, and serves to remind us of the links between what might seem to be only marine ecosystems.

“This shows that the Great Barrier Reef has connections to coral reefs that are thousands of kilometers further east,” Bryan says.

“In the context of the health of the Great Barrier Reef, it is also important that these distant reefs are taken care of.”

010 volcano 2 raftGeologist Scott Bryan investigating pumice rocks. (QUT)

For Volcano F, it has been raising its profile in recent years, and in more ways than one. The ongoing eruptions are not yet attracting the attention of scientists – they are also changing and creating an underwater landscape around the volcano.

Brian was part of an expedition that surveyed the site this year, collecting samples and seeing what the volcano looked like under the waves.

“It’s a volcano that is getting close to breaking the surface and will become an island in the coming years,” Bryan says.

We saw what could happen in other parts of the world, and it makes for a pretty amazing view: instead of huge volcanic rafts, entire pop-up islands exit the ocean.

Volcano F was already a great story, but it seems that the next chapter may be even more incredible.

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