Volcanic Pumice off New Zealand

In 2012, an underwater volcanic eruption generated a floating raft of pumice 200 square miles larger than the state of New Jersey.  The golf-ball-size pieces of rock are from the Havre eruption in the Kermadec Islands.

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General Information

Questions for Classroom Discussion

  • On a map, find the location of Kermadec Islands and Havre Seamount. 
  • What is pumice?  How does it form?
  • Where and why do volcanic eruptions occur underwater? 
  • Look at a map of ocean currents.  If the pumice does not break down, where might the pumice rocks wash up?
  • What impact might a floating pumice raft have on the biosphere?  What are your thoughts?
  • What do you think will be the impacts on the biosphere of planet Earth if mammal species continue to go extinct?
  • Do you think humans should “clean up” and remove the pumice rocks from the ocean, or leave them be?  Why/why not?
  • Could another pumice raft appear on the ocean surface?  How?  Where?

Big Ideas

From the Earth Science Literacy Principles

  • Big Idea 1. Earth scientists use repeatable observations and testable ideas to understand and explain our planet. (1.2, 1.3)
  • Big Idea 3. Earth is a complex system of interacting rock, water, air, and life. (3.6)

From The Big Ideas in Earth and Space Science (ESBD)

  • The Geosphere (4, 5)
  • The Nature of Science (21, 24)

Compiled September 1, 2012, by L.A. Guertin

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