New satellite images taken by the Advanced Land Imager show the formation of a new volcanic island 40 miles (60 km) off the coast of Yemen. The island is being formed by lava from the eruption of an undersea volcano, which began in December:
“A new island is forming in the Red Sea. About 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the coast of Yemen, an undersea eruption began in mid-December 2011. Local fishermen reported an eruption near the island of Saba, while satellites captured a white plume rising from the sea, and a pulse of sulfor dioxide. The activity was located on the northern edge of the Zubair Islands. On December 23, high-resolution satellite imagery revealed details of the eruption. More recent video from a Yemeni Navy helicopter showed violent explosions, typical of shallow submarine eruptions.”
New islands, such as that in the Red Sea and the island of Surtsey off the coast of Iceland, form when lava from undersea volcanic eruptions cools and progressively builds until it reaches the water’s surface. According to NASA, “In contrast to the fragmented rock that forms when lava interacts directly with water, lava that solidifies on land is tough, so this new island [in the Red Sea] is likely to stick around.”
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