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.
Articles to Share with Students
- BBC News - Vast Volcanic ‘Raft’ Found in Pacific, Near New Zealand
- CNN.com – ‘Weirdest thing’ Floats in South Pacific
- Wired Science Blogs - What is the Fate of Volcanic Pumice Rafts? And Havre Seamount
- Undersea Volcano Eruptions Caught on Video (*note this video is not the eruption from this event, just an example)
- NASA Earth Observatory – Satellite Images of Volcanic Eruption and Pumice
- New York Times Topics – Volcanoes
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?
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