Research - Scientists Study New Tongan Island
NASA scientists have landed on a brand new world right here on earth. A three-year-old land mass in Tonga is now covered in a sticky, mysterious mud, and has vegetation and bird life.
The three year old island sometimes referred to as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai is one of only three new islands to emerge in the last 150 years and last more than a few months. In addition to the weird mud, the team from Nasa's Goddard Space Flight Center discovered found vegetation taking root - likely because of seeds dropped by birds flying overhead - and a barn owl building a nest.
But the non-volcanic mud gets the team's attention.
"In the satellite images, you see this light-coloured material," said NASA's Dan Slayback. "It's mud, this light-coloured clay mud. It's very sticky. So even though we'd seen it we didn't really know what it was, and I'm still a little baffled of where it's coming from. Because it's not ash."
Although the island seems to be sturdier than the typical mud flow, scientists estimate the island may survive as long as three decades, before succumbing to the pressures of the ocean.