NASA has said that a team of scientists that made its way to one of the newest and most unique islands in the Pacific the previous year have discovered an uncanny and gooey kind of mud.
Located in the South Pacific near Tonga, the island is unofficially known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (Hunga Tonga). The island came into existence as a consequence of a volcanic eruption towards the closing stages of 2014. The volcano connected two islands but the scientists believe that it is the first island of its kind that was created since satellites began capturing Earth images incessantly.
At the outset, scientists were of the view that the island would last only for a few months. But a research study released by NASA in 2017 revealed that the island managed to thrive despite all suspicion and could exist for another 6 to 30 years.
Hunga Tonga has been mapped by the scientists ever since its creation by employing aerial and satellite surveys but it was not until a team made its way to the island by boat in the fall last year that the scientists discovered its distinctive vegetation.
Elaborating on the research visit in a post on NASA’s Earth Expedition blog in January this year, Dan Slayback of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight asserted that the team of scientists was absolutely excited like kids after witnessing pea sized gravel which made it quite difficult for those of us wearing sandals.
Slayback believed that the light-colored clay mud was one of the most mysterious stuff to have been discovered on the island.
He further went onto say that the mud was gooey so despite seeing it with their own eyes, the scientists were not sure where exactly it was coming from since it was not ash by any stretch of imagination.
Slayback also expressed his bewilderment at the growth of vegetation on a peninsula on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai.
NASA believes that the vegetation was probably fertilized by bird droppings and the animals lived on the islands in the vicinity which had lots of plant life.
A highly accurate GPS unit and a drone were employed by the scientists to capture three dimensional high resolution imagery of the island.
Slayback was quite enthusiastic to be a part of the entourage and said that the clay and vegetation on the island intrigued all of the participants.
He envisaged that the island was eroding at a faster rate than previously anticipated by researchers due to rainfall.
He added that they had concentrated on the erosion on the south coast which was heavily battered by sea waves. However, what was most surprising was that the entire island was getting eroded.