Yesterday, the Royal New Zealand Air Force spotted a gigantic mass made from volcanic pumice rocks floating in the south Pacific. The total area of the "island" is about 9,000 square miles, or about the same size as New Jersey (and larger than Connecticut, Delaware, Rhode Island or the entire nation of Israel).
Pumice is a porous rock formed from rapidly-cooling lava (often the result of lava pouring directly into seawater) that can trap gasses inside, making them buoyant. New Zealand Navy scientists believe this 300-by-30-mile floating mass, which reaches about two feet above sea level, dribbled out from a huge underwater volcanic eruption. A research team has already been sent to investigate the mass and take samples in order to determine its origin.
These "pumice rafts" are thought play an important role in the Earth's biological evolution as they can ferry animals across large bodies of water and may have even been homes to the earliest microscopic lifeforms.
And who knows, should this new floating island be found to be a nice place, it may be just what the anxious inhabitants of rapidly disappearing Maldive islands are looking for.
Via Live Science