Volcanic Islands: Out of Great Chaos Comes Beauty

by Cristian Cruz, age 11

Did you know that a volcano can create a new island in a matter of days?

On November 15, 1963, an underwater volcano erupted, forming the island of Surtsey in the sea just south of Iceland. In a few days, the island was already 197 feet high and more than 0.3 miles long.

Volcanic islands can change shape and size long after they are formed. Lava that cools after it has erupted builds new ground that will become a new home for many creatures and humans. Krakatoa island blew apart in 1883, but fresh lava from later eruptions started to build the island up again.

The first creatures to arrive on new islands are usually flying insects and birds. Drifting logs bring in crabs, snails and sometimes even lizards. The Japanese volcanic island of Miyake-Jima is now inhabited by 3,800 people; humans are the last creatures to arrive.

Most of the world’s islands form in the oceans near places with volcanic activity, for example, along the mid-Atlantic ridge. Volcanic islands can appear and disappear quickly. Other types of islands form when parts of continents sink beneath the sea, perhaps as a result of volcanoes.

[Source: Guide to the Oceans]