(NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens)
26 AUG 2019
A worthy floating raft of volcanic rock that emerged from an underwater volcano eruption in the Pacific Ocean is slowly drifting in direction of the Australian fly, heartening hopes it will advantage the imperilled Huge Barrier Reef.
The massive pumice raft – over 20,000 football fields in size and peaceable of volcanic rock that’s gentle sufficient to slide with the waft on the surface of water – appeared ideal just a few weeks in the past, after a suspected underwater volcanic eruption shut to Tonga.
Satellite imagery first published the exceptional formation on the water’s surface on August 9, corresponding with experiences from sailors on the time.
But essentially the most exceptional observations came from the crew of the Australian sprint catamaran ROAM, who stumbled on themselves adrift amidst the exceptional mass of floating rocks, “utterly masking the ocean surface”.
(NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens)
“Rubble slick made up of rocks from marble to basketball size such that water turned into as soon as no longer viewed,” the sailors wrote in a Facebook post.
“The rubble slick went as a long way as we may perchance well gape in the moonlight and with our highlight.”
The identical extra or much less ride turned into as soon as reported by sailor Shannon Lenz, who posted phenomenal photographs of boating thru the rock raft on YouTube:
“We sailed thru a pumice field for 6–8 hours, exceptional of the time there turned into as soon as no viewed water,” Lenz wrote.
“It turned into as soon as love ploughing thru a field. We figured the pumice turned into as soon as no longer decrease than 6 inches thick.”
Whereas the volcanic phenomenon may perchance well constitute a sailing hazard for other vessels, data of the raft formation is being welcomed by scientists, in particular for the rationale that pumice slick is drifting in direction of the east fly of Australia.
“This is a potential mechanism for restocking the Huge Barrier Reef,” says geologist Scott Bryan from the Queensland College of Technology (QUT).
“Essentially based fully on past pumice raft events we like studied over the last two decades, or no longer it’ll ship new healthy corals and other reef dwellers to the Huge Barrier Reef.”
ROAM sailor Michael Hoult with pumice samples (Fly Surf ROAM/Facebook)
In step with Bryan and fellow QUT researchers, the floating rock slick is expected to waft pass Novel Caledonia and Vanuatu, and may perchance well pass thru coral reef areas in the jap Coral Sea.
Importantly, this should always serene happen at about the identical time because the spot goes thru or no longer it’s well-known coral spawning later in the three hundred and sixty five days, which may perchance well rework the rocky pumice correct into a travelling ecosystem.
“In the in the period in-between the pumice will seemingly be bare and barren nonetheless over the next couple of weeks or no longer it’ll start getting organisms connected to it,” Bryan says.
“This is able to well even have the flexibility to take up corals and other reef building organisms, and then ship them into the Huge Barrier Reef. Every fragment of pumice is a rafting vehicle. It is a dwelling and a vehicle for marine organisms to join and hitch a plug all thru the deep ocean to collect to Australia.”
Whereas the pumice and its payload of algae, barnacles, corals and other marine lifeforms reduction the skill to abet in part regenerate the Huge Barrier Reef’s organic topic, others train we desire to reduction these advantages in standpoint.
“Reefs will seemingly be long past until we kind out anthropogenic heating,” marine biologist Terry Hughes from James Cook dinner College tweeted in relation to media coverage of the pumice.
“The coral reef crisis is rarely any longer going to be solved by a robot, fans, plastic corals or an aquarium – we like to kind out the root causes, in particular greenhouse gasoline emissions.”