Earth  ID: 4602

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).

 

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Visualization Credits

Lead Visualizer:
Cindy Starr (GST)

Scientists:
James Garvin (NASA, Chief Scientist Goddard)
Daniel A. Slayback (SSAI, at NASA Goddard)
Vicki Ferrini (Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University)

Producers:
Ellen T. Gray (ADNET Systems Inc.)
LK Ward (USRA)
Samson K. Reiny (Wyle Information Systems)

Project Supporters:
Joycelyn Thomson Jones (NASA/GSFC)
Leann Johnson (GST)
Eric Sokolowsky (GST)

Technical Support:
Laurence Schuler (ADNET Systems Inc.)
Ian Jones (ADNET Systems Inc.)

Citizen Scientists:
Damien Grouille
Cecile Sabau

Please give credit for this item to:
NASA's Scientific Visualization Studio

Research was largely supported by:
NASA Earth Science Division RRNES Program
(c/o Drs. Jack Kaye and Gerald Bawden)
and the Schmidt Ocean Institute

Science Paper:
https://agupubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/2017GL076621

Short URL to share this page:
http://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/4602

Data Used:
WorldView-2 © 2010 DigitalGlobe 11-Sep-2010
Pléiades-1A © 2015 CNES, Distribution Airbus DS 19-Jan-2015, 08-May-2015
WorldView-2 © 2017 DigitalGlobe 20-May-2017, 29-Jun-2017, 19-Sep-2017
WorldView-3 © 2016 DigitalGlobe 10-Apr-2016, 18-May-2016
WorldView-2 © 2016 DigitalGlobe 02-Sep-2016
WorldView-3 © 2015 DigitalGlobe 21-Apr-2015, 06-Jun-2015, 25-Jul-2015
WorldView-2 © 2015 DigitalGlobe 21-Feb-2015, 27-Apr-2015, 02-Sep-2015, 17-Nov-2015, 22-Dec-2015
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO)/High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE)/HiRISE
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.

Keywords:
DLESE >> Geology
DLESE >> Structural geology
GCMD >> Earth Science >> Solid Earth >> Volcanoes
SVS >> Hyperwall
SVS >> Volcanic Islands
NASA Science >> Earth

GCMD keywords can be found on the Internet with the following citation: Olsen, L.M., G. Major, K. Shein, J. Scialdone, S. Ritz, T. Stevens, M. Morahan, A. Aleman, R. Vogel, S. Leicester, H. Weir, M. Meaux, S. Grebas, C.Solomon, M. Holland, T. Northcutt, R. A. Restrepo, R. Bilodeau, 2013. NASA/Global Change Master Directory (GCMD) Earth Science Keywords. Version 8.0.0.0.0

Places you might have seen this:

SVS Produced Videos/Press conference materials: TK at https://svs.gsfc.nasa.gov/12800

Youtube page for The Birth of an Island: https://youtu.be/Hds1OBxVg4s

Youtube page for A New Time-lapse of an Island Forming in Tonga: https://youtu.be/sIXyxvSEKFY

NASA Goddard Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/NASAGoddard/videos/10156874188955898/

@NASAGoddard Tweet: https://twitter.com/NASAGoddard/status/940243741851430912

NASAEarth Facebook post: https://www.facebook.com/nasaearth/videos/10156874426085898/

@NASAEarth Twitter stream (first tweet in series): https://twitter.com/NASAEarth/status/940258617005092864

NASA Tumblr: https://nasa.tumblr.com/post/168433437659/the-birth-of-a-new-island

New Pacific Island Could Resemble Ancient Martian Volcanoes
Byline: Kenneth Chang
Publication: The New York Times
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
Audience: 39354949
"We see things that remind us of this kind of volcano at similar scales on Mars," said Dr. Garvin, the chief scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. "And literally, there are thousands of them, in multiple regions."

New Volcanic Island May Survive Much Longer Than Expected
Byline: Michael Greshko
Publication: National Geographic (US)
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
Unofficially named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, the new island wasn’t expected to last long. Similar volcanic islands usually erode away in a matter of months. But now, NASA scientists have announced far rosier estimates for the island’s lifespan, giving it between six and 30 years. The team unveiled their results today at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting in New Orleans.

Pacific 'baby island' is natural lab to study Mars
Byline: Jonathan Amos
Publication: BBC
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
"The thought was that we might be able to use recognition of these kinds of landforms to be an indication of palaeowater stories, depths and longevities on the Red Planet," said Dr Jim Garvin, chief scientist at the US space agency's (NASA) Goddard Space Flight Center.

An underwater volcano has made a mysterious new island in the South Pacific
Byline: David Anderson
Publication: Business Insider (US)
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
Audience: 20235941
Hawaii isn't the only series of islands formed from underwater volcanic eruptions. In 2014, a massive eruption formed the new island of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai. But there's something about this island that has scientists stumped.

Pacific pop-up: island that rose from the ashes might last 30 years
Byline: Anna Livsey
Publication: The Guardian
Date: Dec. 12, 2017
A new Tongan island formed from the ash of a 2014 volcanic eruption in the South Pacific could exist for decades, according to a study released by NASA.

Newborn Pacific Island Offers NASA Insights Into Water On Mars
Byline: Suraj Radhakrishnan
Publication: International Business Times
Date: Dec. 12, 2017
The island, which was unofficially named Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, was projected to last only a few months but latest NASA studies have shown that the island could stay for 30 years, proving an interesting area of study.

Watching this newborn island erode could tell us a lot about Mars
Byline: Carolyn Gramling
Publication: sciencenews.org
Date: Dec. 11, 2017
Audience: 160000
Since January 2015, NASA satellites have tracked the island’s growth and erosion month-to-month. Scientists are using those data to estimate its life span, said James Garvin, chief scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.