Retrospectacle: A Neuroscience Blog

A newborn voclanic island has been identified in the South Pacific near Tonga, according to the reports of two vessels that have passed nearby.

The crew of the Maiken, a yacht that left the northern Tongan islands group of Vava’u in August, reported on their Web log on August 12 that they saw streaks of light, porous pumice stone floating in the water — then “sailed into a vast, many-miles-wide belt of densely packed pumice.”

They posted photos of huge “pumice rafts” that they encountered after passing Tonga’s Late island while sailing toward Fiji.

“We were so fascinated and busy taking pictures that we plowed a couple of hundred meters into this surreal floating stone field before we realized that we had to turn back,” wrote a crewman identified only as Haken.

What’s even cooler is that the crew of the Maiken has its own blog which has beautiful pictures of these weird “pumice rafts” and of the island. From the blog:

Yesterday we saw the birth of an island, most likely we were the first humans to see the new creation. We have some pictures, but they will have to wait until we have a chance to upload them. So you might have heard about the sailor superstition that you should “never leave on a Friday”. Well, we did and the sea turned to stone, it is hard to get a stronger sign than that. It sounds like a bad joke, but just wait until you see the pictures. Floating stones none the less. When you pick them up, it is easy to see that they are really just volcanic ash that compressed into pumice stone.

Birth of an island:
i-18de9afd5336af5eeb7c8d17829b93c3-island 1.jpg

Pumice floating in the sea:
i-366b6ac1e882a6f9f9dab6075d58e58a-raft 1.jpg


  1. #1 J-Dog
    November 10, 2006


  2. #2 Mustafa Mond, FCD
    November 10, 2006

    Ho hum. Like, who hasn’t discovered their own new island before?

  3. #3 toomanytribbles
    November 10, 2006

    good thing they’re finding new ones, ’cause some old ones are sinking.

  4. #4 John McKay
    November 10, 2006

    Did they name it? As the discoverers, that is their right. Haken and Maiken are both nice names.

  5. #5 gengar
    November 10, 2006

    Note that this was back in August; according to this guy, this was probably an eruption of a (barely) submarine volcano known as Home Reef, which did a similar thing back in 1984.

  6. #6 pough
    November 10, 2006

    And here I thought it was very small stones that float…

  7. #7 Shelley Batts
    November 10, 2006

    Maybe the pumice is made of wood. Like a witch.

  8. #8 Dave Godfrey
    November 12, 2006

    And ducks.

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