Huge Mass of Volcanic Rocks Floating off NZ

Scientists say pumice rocks came from underwater volcano
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 10, 2012 3:36 PM CDT
Huge Mass of Volcanic Rocks Floating off NZ
An area of floating pumice is spotted off the coast of New Zealand.   (Nicole Munro)

A mass of small volcanic rocks nearly the size of Belgium has been discovered floating off the coast of New Zealand. The stretch of golf-ball-size pumice rocks was first spotted this week by a New Zealand air force plane about 620 miles northeast of Auckland. The rocks stretch for about 10,000 square miles. Naval Lt. Tim Oscar says the rocks appeared a brilliant white under a spotlight, like a giant ice shelf. He says it's the "weirdest thing" he's seen in 18 years at sea.

Scientists say the rocks likely spewed up in an eruption by an underwater volcano, though they don't believe the eruption is connected to the onshore ash eruption this week of another volcano, Mount Tongariro. Military officials says the mass of rocks stretches 250 nautical miles by 30 nautical miles. Pumice is made from lava and water and is very lightweight, so it poses little danger to ships. (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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