Scientists from NASA and other organizations have landed for the first time on one of the newest islands in the entire world. Upon landing the team discovered that the entire island, which is volcanic in nature and rose from the ocean near Tonga three years ago, is covered in thick and mysterious mud. While the island is only a few years old, it is covered in vegetation and bird life as well.
This unnamed island is one of three new islands that have emerged from the ocean depths in the last 150 years that have survived more than a few months. NASA scientists were excited to visit the new island because scientists have little knowledge on how and why new islands form. The island had previously been studied using satellites, but real-world study proved satellite studies aren’t always accurate.
The team planned to land on what looked to be a black-sand beach on the satellite images. That was found to be made of pea-size gravel and was painful to walk on. Vegetation was starting to take root with the seeds thought to have been deposited by birds flying over the island.
A barn owl had made a nest on the island along with hundreds of nesting sooty terns. The scientist are stumped by a light-colored, stick, clay-like mud. The team is unsure as to what the mud is and where it is coming from, the mud isn’t ash says researcher Dan Slayback.
The scientist says that a high-resolution 3D map will be made of the island and the team will return to study the island more next year. Estimates suggest the island could last for 30-years before the ocean reclaims it.