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Giant "pumice rafts" drifting through the Pacific Ocean



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Media Caption Shannon Lenz and Tom Whitehead rose to the "pumice raft" in early August.

A huge "raft" of volcanic rocks with an extension of more than 150 km². (Scientists say the pumice sea – the size of 20,000 football fields – was reported for the first time earlier this month by Australian sailors Underwater Volcano near Tonga, which broke out after satellite images around 7 August.

Sailors were warned themselves

Pumice stone is a light, bubbly stone that can float in the water and is formed when magma has cooled rapidly.

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MICHAEL HOULT

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Sailor Michael Hoult was one of the first to report the volcanic rock raft

Large "rafts" of volcanic rock tend to form when a volcano is located in shallower waters, experts say.

  • Massive volcanic & # 39; raft & # 39; found near New Zealand
  • Deep sea volcanoes found off Sydney

An Australian couple sailing to Fiji on a catamaran first reported the "pumice raft" after accidentally falling into the rubble at night.

"The waves were almost brought to rest and the boat slowed to a knot," wrote Michael Hoult and Larissa Brill online on August 1

6.

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MICHAEL HOULT / LARISSA BRILL

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The Australian couple collected pumice samples

"The debris slide went as far as we could see in the moonlight and with our headlights."

They were temporarily stuck after stones blocked their rudder, but were able to navigate out of the field.

Since then, they have sent samples of pumice stone – "ranging from marble to basketball size" – to Queensland University of Technology (QUT) researchers in Australia.

"Whole Surface Converted to Land"

Associate Prof Scott Bryan, a geologist who studied the samples at QUT, said such pumice stone might be seen in the region about every five years.

"It's a phenomenon that is reported over time, usually as islands in the middle of the ocean that people encounter but can not find again," he told the BBC.

"It may be as if the whole surface has landed [of the ocean]."

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EUROPEAN UNION / COPERNICUS SENTINEL [19659010] Caption

Satellite image of the pumice & # 39; raft & # 39; on the 21st of August
Associate Professor Bryan said satellite images showed that the field has since split into two main surface masses with many trailing "bands" of rock.

"There are more than a trillion bits of pumice floating right now, but over time it will dissolve and disperse across the region," he said. The pumice is currently drifting west towards Fiji and is likely to pass through New Caledonia and Vanuatu. It was also predicted that it would reach Australia.

"It could potentially reach Australia in a year, but we do not know if it could last." Martin Jutzeler from the University of Tasmania.

Potential Boost to Reef

Experts say the pumice will likely become the home of marine life as it floats on ocean currents across the Pacific Ocean.

"Lots of life … can bind to the pumice and transport thousands So it's a way to rebuild ecosystems somewhere, but it can also introduce invasive species," Dr. Jutzeler.

If it reaches Australia, this could be a blessing for the damaged Great Barrier Reef, some experts say. [19659013] Rock Rafts & # 39; Potential Cradles of Life & # 39;

  • Barrier Reef – Coral Babies & # 39; in Mass Degradation
  • "This is a potential mechanism to replenish the Great Barrier Reef," Associate Professor Bryan said.

    "Based on past pumice raft events that we've studied over the past 20 years, new ones will bring in healthy corals and other reef inhabitants."

    The regeneration of coral is following unprecedented bleaching events in 2016 and 2017 collapsed in the largest reef system in the world.

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    Media Title Warmer water has led to mass coral bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef


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