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December 28, 2011
Witness the Birth of an Island

Click on image to enlarge.

The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) sensor on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites observed plumes on Dec. 20 and Dec. 22. Meanwhile, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption.

A 2007 satellite image shows nothing but water between Haycock Island and Rugged Island.

But the activity in the Red Sea included more than an eruption. By Dec. 23, what looked like a new island appeared in the region. The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured these high-resolution, natural-color images on Dec. 23, 2011 (top), and Oct. 24, 2007 (bottom).

The image from December 2011 shows an apparent island where there previously had been an unbroken water surface. A thick plume rises from the island, dark near the bottom and light near the top, perhaps a mixture of volcanic ash and water vapor.

The volcanic activity occurred along the Zubair Group, a collection of small islands off the west coast of Yemen. Running in a roughly northwest-southeast line, the islands poke above the sea surface, rising from a shield volcano. This region is part of the Red Sea Rift where the African and Arabian tectonic plates pull apart and new ocean crust regularly forms.

 

Source: NASA

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