22 miles of floating volcanic rock could help save Australia's Great Barrier Reef

22 miles of floating volcanic rock could help save Australia's Great Barrier Reef

On August 13, 2019, the Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 acquired natural-color imagery of a vast pumice raft floating in the tropical Pacific Ocean in the Kingdom of Tonga. NASA’s Terra satellite detected the mass of floating rock on August 9.

KINGDOM OF TONGA — A massive area of floating volcanic rock as large as Manhattan in the Pacific Ocean could ultimately help save Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, at least that’s the hope of scientists who are watching the marine spectacle.

The pumice debris is from an underwater volcanic eruption earlier this month near Tonga, The New York Times reported, and it's heading toward Australia.

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Sea creatures like crabs and corals are thought to flourish under the floating rock. Researchers said if it reaches the Great Barrier Reef, it could help restore the reef's lost marine life and coral, half of which has been lost to climate change in recent years, according to CNN.

The huge sheet of floating pumice was first noticed in early August by sailors who described the chunks of rock as ranging "from marble to basketball size," CNN reported.

Such events are not that rare. Scientists said they happen every few years and are rarely observed by humans.

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