A small island has been born in the Red Sea, following an undersea volcanic eruption that occurred in mid-December, 2011.
The yet-to-be-named island has formed in the Zubair archipelago, a collection of small islands off the west coast of Yemen, and lies between Haycock Island and Rugged Island, according to NASA.
The new island was first revealed in a photograph by NASA's Earth Observatory's satellite on Dec. 23, in which white ash plume was seen rising from the sea, indicating an eruption. The undersea eruption occurred in a region which is part of the Red Sea Rift, which is where the African and Arabian tectonic plates pull apart and new ocean crust regularly forms, according to scientists.
In early January, a new satellite image revealed that the submarine eruption had risen completely above the water surface and a fragment of land surrounding the eruption was spotted, indicating the formation of a new island. According to scientists, the landmass has now grown to about 530 by 710 meters (1,700 by 2,300 feet) in size.
In contrast to the fragmented rock that forms when lava interacts directly with water, lava that solidifies on land is tough, so this new island is likely to stick around, the scientists added.
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New satellite images, taken on Jan. 15, indicated the eruptions had stopped and the island had already formed, as a part of the Zubair archipelago, which is about 60 kilometers (40 miles) from the coast of Yemen.
The photographs released by NASA, which are reproduced below, show the formation of the new island:
The Zubair archipelago consisting of Haycock Island and Rugged Island in the Red Sea, off the west coast of Yemen, as seen on Oct. 24, 2007. Image courtesy EO-1/NASA
A volcanic eruption is see in the Red Sea in this satellite image taken on Dec. 23, 2011. Image courtesy EO-1/NASA
The satellite image, acquired Jan. 7, 2012, suggests that the eruption had risen completely above water and a land surrounding the vent had grown. Image courtesy EO-1/NASA
The new island formed on the Red Sea is seen in the image taken on Jan. 15, 2012. Image courtesy EO-1/NASA