OVER the last week a new island has formed in the Pacific Ocean near Tonga. But, no, it is not because sea levels are falling!
Rather it is the consequence of a volcanic eruption.
A volcanic eruption allows molten rock, ash, and poisonous gases to escape from the earth’s mantle sometimes resulting in the formation of a mountain or island.
The volcano off the coast of Tonga began erupting last Monday and apparently by Wednesday it had formed a small island.
The great majority of oceanic islands in the Pacific were formed by this type of volcanic activity.
While the volcanoes are active, the islands rise relative to the global averaged sea-level. When volcanic activity stops, the islands will cool and eventually start to sink.
So there are islands rising and sinking all the time.
In fact the problems at Tuvalu, where Al Gore has claimed seawater inundation from rising sea waters, may have more to do with natural subsidence.
UPDATE, April 1, 2009
According to this NASA newsletter the eruptions did not result in a new island, but rather a larger Hunga Ha’apai. http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=37657&src=eoa-iotd
Crikey! The Islands Are Still There: An Inconvenient Truth (Part 3). http://jennifermarohasy.com/blog/2006/09/crikey-the-islands-are-still-there-an-inconvenient-truth-part-3/