New South Pacific island shows fast-forming geology

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Published: 9 June 2015 (GMT+10)
New Zealand High Commission, Nuku'alofa, Tonga new-island
Ongoing, but subdued volcanic eruption recorded on video on January 14, 2015.

Volcanic activity from a submarine vent of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano has recently created a new island 55 km (35 miles) off the coast of Tonga in the South Pacific Ocean. The new island was formed as a result of a six-week eruption which officially ended on 26 January 2015. As a result of erupted magma and vast plumes of ash, which reached heights of up to 9,000 m (30,000 ft),1 the as yet unnamed cone-shaped island was formed spanning about 1.7 km (1.1 miles) by 1.4 km (0.9 miles) and reaching an impressive 100 m (330 ft) above sea level.2 As the island grew rapidly it joined onto a smaller neighbouring island, Hunga Ha’apai, and stopped about 60 m (200 ft) short of connecting to a second island, Hunga Tonga, both of which have had their flora and fauna devastated by the eruption.

The new island is thought to be composed mainly of scoria (solidified basaltic lava filled with gas holes) and clearly defined layers of wet ash which were deposited close to the vent and can be observed in pictures taken of the new island. The island also boasts a vast green sulphurous lake. One visitor to the island said, “There are thousands of seabirds—all kinds, laying eggs on the island”.3

While this eruption is relatively small in comparison to the catastrophic eruptions that took place during Noah’s Flood, and the large flood basalts that were formed as a result such as the Giant’s Causeway, it does show just how quickly such geological events take place.

Geologist Derek Ager, who re-introduced catastrophism into secular geology, pointed out that,

“the history of any one part of the earth, like the life of a soldier, consists of long periods of boredom and short periods of terror”.4

In the short period of terror during the formation of this island the geological activity was rapid. During Noah’s Flood, however, there would not be many, if any, long periods of boredom. This new island demonstrates that what is observed is consistent with biblical history and timescales but does nothing to support the notion of millions of years.

References and notes

  1. Tongan volcano eruption puts flights on alert, nzherald.co.nz, 13 January, 2015. Return to text.
  2. Zolfagharifard, E., Like the look of this island? dailymail.co.uk, 12 March 2015. Return to text.
  3. Pearlman, J., First photographs emerge of new Pacific island off Tonga, telegraph.co.uk, 11 March 2015. Return to text.
  4. Ager, D., The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, John Wiley and Sons, NY, pp.106–107, 1981. Return to text.

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