Last update: December 14th, 2019 at 8:00 am
Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory shows a pumice raft floating across the tropical Pacific Ocean.
When underwater volcanoes erupt, they sometimes release masses of lava that are lighter than water, which form pumice rafts.
Volcanologists at the Smithsonian believe the source of this particular pumice raft is an unnamed submarine volcano near the Kingdom of Tonga. The volcano’s summit is believed to stand about 130 feet below the surface.
“Pumice rafts can drift for weeks to years, slowly dispersing into the ocean currents,” wrote Erik Klemetti of Denison University. “These chunks of pumice end up making excellent, drifting homes for sea organisms, helping them spread…The erupted pumice means this volcano erupts magma high in silica like rhyolite.”
The natural-color image was captured on August 13, 2019 by the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8.
Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory