Underwater Eruptions Give Birth to Two New Islands in Red Sea

Volcanoes of the Zubair Archipelago located in the Red Sea were quiet for centuries until waking up in 2007.

Japan's New Volcano Island: A 'Natural Lab' to Explore EvolutionFour years later a new island, dubbed Sholan, was born in a spectacular show put on by an eruption at the seafloor spewing gas and ash into the air.

In 2013, a new and larger island, known as Jadid, emerged nearby in an eruption that lasted 54 days.

Thanks to modern technology, the violent birth of the two islands was captured by satellites.

The islands appearing in a magmatically active zone is a relatively rare and still largely unstudied phenomenon, according to an international team of scientists from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia. Few of such islands have so far been observed.

New data helped researchers gain some insight into what happens to the newborn volcanic islands in the first several months. For instance, the high-resolution optical satellite images showed that two new members of the Zubair Archipelago family rapidly grew soon after they appeared.

"Coastal erosion significantly modified their shapes within months," Wenbin Xu, Joël Ruch and Sigurjón Jónsson said in an article published in Nature Communications on Tuesday. Battered by winds and waves, as well as eaten away by erosion the islands shrank over the last two years.

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