Eruptions create new islands in the Red Sea

Two volcanic bodies formed in 2011 and 2013

new volcanic islands

NEWFOUND LAND  Two new volcanic islands cropped up in the Red Sea (Jadid Island formed during the eruption seen in this satellite image). The isles, roughly the size of a few dozen football fields, will help scientists better understand how islands get shaped.

Jónsson et al/Nature Communications

Update your maps: Two new islands have popped up in the strip of ocean between Africa and the Arabian Peninsula.

Witnessing the birth of a volcanic island is incredibly rare, but thanks to satellite images, researchers from the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, retraced the formation of two islands in the Red Sea.

The new islands, called Sholan and Jadid, formed where two tectonic plates pull apart at a rate of about 6 millimeters a year. Magma burst through cracks in Earth’s crust during weeks-long eruptions, piling up rock and creating the new isles, one in 2011–2012 and the other in 2013. The larger island, Jadid, is about one-fifth the size of New York’s Central Park, the researchers report online May 26 in Nature Communications. Anyone wanting to take advantage of the new seaside real estate should act fast: Erosion has already shrunk Sholan Island by about 30 percent.

Editor’s Note: This story was updated June 4, 2015, to correct the photo’s labeling. Originally, one of the labeled islands was not one of the newly formed isles; now the two new islands are the ones labeled.

More Stories from Science News on Earth