The floating island of porous rocks has reached Australia after thousands of kilometers of travel. And that s very good news

An underwater volcano at the bottom of the Pacific threw a large mass of pumice stone onto the ocean’s surface. The island of porous rocks floating on the waves, after traveling thousands of kilometers, reached the shores of Australia, where it turned out to be a salvation for the world’s largest (and endangered) coral reef.

It may sound unbelievable, but it just happened. All these events took place last year. As if that were not enough, it is not the first time of its kind. In 2001, there was the same eruption from the same volcano – which as such has no proper name and is designated only as Volcano F or 0403-091 – located near the Vava’u islands. It was also then that the mighty pumice reef was created, which, moving along the currents, reached Australia after a year.

When such an eruption occurs, it forms a pumice reef of sorts – a floating platform made up of countless pieces of highly porous volcanic rock.

Each of these small rocks attracts marine organisms: algae, barnacles, corals and many more. They travel with the pumice across the ocean, so they can carry and help restore endangered coral reefs, especially for their destination: the Great Barrier Reef.

Each piece of pumice stone has its own community that has come with it across half the ocean, and there are billions of pumice stones.

Says Scott Bryan, a geologist at Queensland University of Technology in Australia.

Bryan has been working with volcanic reefs for 20 years. He recently published a report on the Havre Seamount volcano eruption, which was the largest underwater volcano eruption ever recorded. As a result, a giant pumice reef was created, which over time spread over an area twice the size of New Zealand. Large bits of pumice stone, the size of vans, also fell to the bottom of the ocean in large numbers

Geologist Scott Bryan with a piece of pumice stone

We do not yet know why part of the pumice stone sinks to the bottom at the eruption site, and part floats for months and years on the surface of the ocean.

Bryan says.

Aid to the Great Barrier Reef

Scientists hope that the supply of fresh pumice stone from Volcano F will improve the condition of the Great Barrier Reef off Australia’s coast, which is fading alarmingly as the oceans warm up due to climate change. While organisms that have reached Australia with pumice can refresh the reef’s ecosystem a bit, scientists note that this is still not enough.

Pumice stone alone will not help us deal directly with the effects of climate change. It’s just a supply of new recruits, new corals and other reef-building organisms. Such deliveries appear on average every five years

– points out the geologist.

The post-eruption pumice reef, covering an area the size of 20,000 football fields, now stretches along the entire east coast of Australia from Townsville in the north of Queensland to New South Wales – 1,300 kilometers of coast.

Volcano F wastes no time

Last year, Scott Bryan participated in an expedition to the eruption site where he studied the volcano itself beneath the surface of the water. In addition to the production of pumice stone, volcanic eruptions directly change the underwater landscape around it.

Volcano F is close to breaking above the water level. In some time its top will become a new island

Bryan says.

It can therefore be concluded that Volcano F is already a fascinating object of research, but its best years may still be ahead of us.

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The floating island of porous rocks has reached Australia after thousands of kilometers of travel. And that’s very good news

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