Some satellite-aided detective work spots an underwater volcanic eruption in the South Pacific.
View Image Comparison View Both Images Midway on its 800-kilometer (500-mile) voyage from Auckland to Raoul Island, New Zealand, the HMNZS Canterbury received an intriguing report: a maritime patrol aircraft had spotted a vast area of open ocean covered with floating pumice. Soon after, the ship was sailing through a mass of buoyant volcanic rocks. Up to two feet thick, the pumice raft was about half a nautical mile (1 kilometer) wide, and “extended sideways as far as the eye could see,” wrote Rebecca Priestley, a science writer aboard the ship. Although the lightweight, gas-filled pumice posed no threat to the Canterbury, enough got stuck in the water filters to provide samples for analysis. Though the pumice was spread over a vast area of the South Pacific, the origin was a mystery to the crew of the ship. An undersea volcano several hundred kilometers to the north of th...