Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Volcanic Island In The Red Sea

Nearly coinciding with the New Year, volcanic activity of the west coast of Yemen has given rise to a new volcanic island.

 From the NASA Earth Observatory article:

An eruption occurred in the Red Sea in December 2011. According to news reports, fishermen witnessed lava fountains reaching up to 30 meters (90 feet) tall on December 19. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra and Aqua satellites observed plumes on December 20 and December 22. Meanwhile, the Ozone Monitoring Instrument (OMI) on NASA’s Aura satellite detected elevated levels of sulfur dioxide, further indicating an eruption.

The activity in the Red Sea included more than an eruption. By December 23, 2011, what looked like a new island appeared in the region....

....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.

 The Red Sea is one arm of a great three armed rift system that includes the Gulf of Aden and the East African rift valley as the other two arms. If you want to know more about divergent plate boundaries and rifting along this complex system I would recommend this primer at Geology.com.

And don't forget to check out the image comparison tool with its cool slider at the NASA Earth Observatory website by clicking on the View Image Comparison option.

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