Undersea eruption caught by satellite

Last updated 14:54 14/08/2012
Pumice raft from space

SEEN FROM SPACE: The circled area of light blue water shows discolouration from volcanic ash.

Pumice raft from space
ENLARGED VIEW: The discoloured water caused by volcanic ash.

Related Links

25,000 sq km sea of pumice floats off New Zealand Scientists rock theory on pumice raft

Relevant offers

A huge pumice raft spewed up by an undersea New Zealand volcano has been captured by a Nasa satellite.

It reveals that when it erupted on July 19 it even sent up a plume of ash that went unnoticed.

The first sign of it came last week when a Royal New Zealand Air Force Orion patrol spotted the pumice and re-rerouted multi-purpose warship HMNZS Canterbury to the scene, south of the Kermadec Islands, last Friday.

They found thick pumice for as far as the eye could see.

After reading the report, Nasa searched their database of satellite shots - coming up with these.

Scientists from Tahiti and New Zealand's GNS Science connected the eruption with a cluster of earthquakes in the Kermadec Islands on July 17 and 18.

Working independently of GNS, vulcanologist Erik Klemetti and Nasa visualiser Robert Simmon examined a month's worth of satellite imagery from Nasa's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer.

They discovered the first signs of the eruption - ash-stained water, gray pumice, and a volcanic plume - in imagery from 9.50 am and 2.10 pm on July 19.

"Hidden by clouds in the morning image, the site of the eruption is clearly visible in the afternoon image," Nasa says.

They then identified the likely source of the eruption as the Havre Seamount.

The eruption was strong enough to breach the ocean surface from a depth of 1100 metres.

By July 21, the eruption appeared to have waned, leaving behind the dense rafts of pumice.

Ad Feedback

- Stuff

Special offers
Opinion poll

What will be the main motivation for humanity's future space endeavours?

Quest for alien life

Making money

Human spirit of exploration

To escape an ailing Earth

China vs the rest space race

Vote Result

Related story: (See story)

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content

In Our Nature blog

In Our Nature, with Nicola Toki

The cost of losing nature