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Report on Additional Reports (Unknown) — September 2011

Additional Reports

Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, vol. 36, no. 9 (September 2011)
Managing Editor: Richard Wunderman.

Additional Reports (Unknown) Tonga: Photo from space on 13 April 2011 raises questions about drifting pumice rafts

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2011. Report on Additional Reports (Unknown) (Wunderman, R., ed.). Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network, 36:9. Smithsonian Institution. https://doi.org/10.5479/si.GVP.BGVN201109-600500

Additional Reports


Lat Unknown, Unknown; summit elev. m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

This report presents a serendipitous observation near Tofua, possibly indicative of volcanism elsewhere (not on Tofua). A photo of Tofua and vicinity from space taken on 13 April 2011 displays significant material on the sea surface - the possible relict of an eruption at some unknown center.

A photo taken from space by Astronaut Paulo Nespoli (figure 1) could suggest an eruption in the Southern Pacific region at an unknown volcano. Nespoli took the photo from the International Space Station on 13 April 2011 (Nespoli, 2011). It shows occasional white clouds over the island's high points, and a thin gray-blue plume indicative of Tofua's volcanic emissions wafting to the SE.

see figure caption Figure 1. Photo taken 13 April 2011 from the International Space Station with hand-held camera showing Tofua and debris on the sea surface suggestive of pumice. The composition and source of the debris is unknown; however, the shape, distribution, and color of areas of debris are consistent with zones of floating pumice. Image (239B2033) courtesy of Astronaut Paolo Nespoli (European Space Agency and the International Space Station); labels and dashed lines added.

The elongate and sinuous bands of debris seen in the photo are suggestive of floating pumice seen before in the region (eg., see Home Reef, BGVN 31:09; 31:10; 31:12; 32:04; 33:05; 33:12; Metis Shoal, BGVN 20:06). If this is pumice in elongate strands such as seen from Home Reef's 2006 eruption, it could also be derived from deposits of an older eruption. Debris floating in strands are most conspicuous at upper left of figure 1, where they form a curve cut by the photograph's left edge. Faintly linked to that area is a thinner strand of sinuous debris. Other strands of similar width appear elsewhere.

Reference. Nespoli, P., 2011, Tofua Island, Tonga: Flickr (uploaded 18 April 2011) (URL: http://www.flickr.com/photos/magisstra/5618223635/).

Geological Summary. Reports of floating pumice from an unknown source, hydroacoustic signals, or possible eruption plumes seen in satellite imagery.

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