Volcanoes’ role in reef formation studied

Posted: 07/26/2012 in all marine news

UPI – 

Volcanic eruption in the southwest Pacific could save the Great Barrier Reef — and might be responsible for its formation, an Australian researcher says.

Queensland University of Technology geologist Scott Bryan and colleagues studied the westward flow, or rafting, of pumice — created when frothy molten rock cools rapidly and forms a lightweight bubble-rich rock that can float in water — after volcanic eruptions in Tonga in 2001 and 2006.

Plants and tiny animals including corals latched onto the pumice as it was swept by ocean currents toward northeastern Australia, they found.

“The pumice raft created after the 2006 Home Reef volcano erupted in Tonga initially formed at least a 440 square kilometer (150 square mile) floating mass,” Bryan said.

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