Take the most awesome thing you’ve ever seen and multiply it by 10. That’s a lot of awesomeness, right? Well, it still doesn’t even come close to matching the level of awesomeness one group of sailors witnessed while traveling through the Pacific Ocean.
The group, on board a yacht called Maiken, noticed water off in the distance slowly turning brown – or so it seemed. As the yacht neared the brown patch, the crew realized it was actually a mass of stone floating to the ocean’s surface.
This is not some sort of early April Fool’s joke, people. It actually happened.
Just imagine – one minute you’re sailing through a seemingly endless body of water and the next minute your surroundings look like this.
The crew was able to keep pushing through the stone for a bit, leaving a trail behind them. Eventually, though, the stone’s density became so great they had to change direction.
It’s a good thing they did change direction. Just a few miles away from the stone mass was an underwater volcano. It was about to blow the whole mystery wide open.
At that point, things began to make sense to Maiken’s crew. The giant stone they had witnessed earlier was pumice produced by the volcano’s eruption.
As the crew watched on, the mass grew. They were watching the birth of an island.
The Phenomenon, Explained
According to scientists, this sort of ‘surprise island creation’ happens dozens of times each year. Usually, though, it happens in extremely remote areas of the ocean.
The Maiken crew was lucky enough to be passing through a hotspot in the Pacific Ocean right as it flared up.
Hotspots are regions – often on the ocean floor – with lots of volcanic activity. While ‘conventional’ volcanoes are the result of a gap in between tectonic plates, hotspot volcanoes can occur right in the middle of such a plate.
This, of course, confuses the heck out of geologists. There are several theories that attempt to explain hotspots – none of which are even close to being universally-accepted.
What geologists do accept is that hotspots bring several new volcanic islands into existence each year – including all of the islands surrounding Hawaii.