New island forms in Tonga
The evolution of the newly-erupted "surtseyan" island (~ 180 hectares in area) in the Kingdom of Tonga in the Southwestern Pacific is documented in a time-lapse sequences of perspective views using a time-series of DigitalGlobe WorldView images from just after the eruption ended in late January 2015 until late September 2017. These meter-resolution views were generated using Digital Elevation Models (DEMs) created by the NASA- led science team using stereo-pairs of DigitalGlobe Worldview images, and have allowed the erosional history of this unique island to be studied from a never-before-possible spaceborne perspective. The impact of marine abrasion on the somewhat fragile volcanic-ash landscapes is evident as the southern and southeastern margins of the new island, informally known as Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai (HTHH), recede, while deposition of a widening isthmus grows to the northeast.
Research results from NASA-funded science team led by James B. Garvin (NASA GSFC), Daniel A. Slayback (SSAI), Vicki Ferrini (Columbia) recently submitted for publication in the AGU's Geophysical Research Letters journal suggest the island's lifetime may be extended for another 25-30 years if geochemical fortification continues to protect key regions. The HTHH island is the first surtseyan eruption-based island to have persisted as "new land" for more than 6 months since Surtsey erupted near Iceland in 1963. Studies of the landscape evolution of pristine volcanic islands of this variety previously relied on a combination of aerial photography, field mapping, and laboratory sample analysis, but this new work enables an optimized approach via advanced satellite optical and radar imaging in combination with ship-based bathymetric mapping. Results of this work can be applied to understanding numerous small volcanic landforms on Mars whose formation may have been in shallow-water environments during epochs when persistent surface water was present.
Field photography and sampling of the HTHH island "system" by French sailors who served as citizen geoscientists for the NASA project greatly enhanced the project and validated several key interpretations.
(Special thanks to NASA Earth Sciences RRNES program, French sailors Damien Grouille and Cecile Sabau of the sailing vessel Colibri, and to the Schmidt Ocean Institute R/V Falkor).
This movie begins with the visualization above and concludes showing video footage and photographs taken by Damiaen Grouille and Cecile Sabau on June 4th and 5th, 2017.
This video is also available on our YouTube channel.
Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio
Research was largely supported by:
NASA Earth Science Division RRNES Program
(℅ Drs. Jack Kaye and Gerald Bawden)
and the Schmidt Ocean Institute
- Cindy Starr (Global Science and Technology, Inc.) [Lead]
Papers used in this visualization
Datasets used in this visualization
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) HiRISEID: 898Collected with High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)
WorldView-2 © 2015 DigitalGlobeID: 991Observed Data DigitalGlobe 21-Feb-2015, 27-Apr-2015, 02-Sep-2015, 17-Nov-2015, 22-Dec-2015
WorldView-3 © 2015 DigitalGlobeID: 992Observed Data DigitalGlobe 21-Apr-2015, 06-Jun-2015, 25-Jul-2015
WorldView-2 © 2016 DigitalGlobeID: 993Observed Data DigitalGlobe 02-Sep-2016
WorldView-3 © 2016 DigitalGlobeID: 994Observed Data DigitalGlobe 10-Apr-2016, 18-May-2016
WorldView-2 © 2017 DigitalGlobeID: 995Observed Data DigitalGlobe 20-May-2017, 29-Jun-2017, 19-Sep-2017
WorldView-2 © 2010 DigitalGlobeID: 996Observed Data DigitalGlobe 11-Sep-2010
Pléiades-1A © 2015 CNES, Distribution Airbus DSID: 997Observed Data Distribution Airbus DS 19-Jan-2015, 08-May-2015
Note: While we identify the data sets used in these visualizations, we do not store any further details, nor the data sets themselves on our site.