A huge pumice stone island as big as Freiburg is currently drifting through the Pacific. According to researchers, the volcanic rock originates from the eruption of an undersea volcano.
In the Pacific, a huge carpet of volcanic rock floats. Satellite images show loose stones on an area of about 150 square kilometres, the size of Bochum or Freiburg, which are drifting in the ocean towards Australia. The carpet is believed to have been formed by the eruption of an underground volcano near the island state of Tonga in the first week of August.
carpet consists of several million chunks of pumice
It is estimated that there are several million lumps of volcanic pumice stone of grey colour. Pumice, for example, is formed when magma cools quickly after an eruption under water. It is practically foamed by water vapour and carbon dioxide. It has many bubbles, is relatively light and therefore floats on the water. However, some of the lumps are as big as a basketball.
On video recordings of the Australian TV station 7News you can see how the stone carpet reaches to the horizon. It was discovered in mid-August by the Australian sailing couple Larissa Brill and Michael Hoult, who were sailing their catamaran towards the Fiji Islands. On their Facebook page, the two write: “The field of boulders stretched as far as we could see in the moonlight and with the light of our spotlights”.
Sailors are stuck in the meantime
Brill and Hoult were temporarily stuck because stones had blocked their rudder. But they were able to navigate out of the field. Experts now hope that the pumice floating in the ocean could become a new home for marine life. The world’s largest coral reef, the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia, which is suffering from fading, could also possibly benefit from this.
The prerequisite for this, however, is that the stone carpet actually holds course for Australia. According to previous calculations, it will probably move there, past New Caledonia and Vanuatu. However it might take more than half a year, until the first stones arrive there.