Climate change has taken a heavy toll on the Great Barrier Reef and its corals. Nature is now sending across relief in the form of a huge mass of pumice rock. This was the result of an underground volcano erupting in one of the Pacific islands. The enormous rock compares favorably to the size of Manhattan and some sailors noticed it first. They were Australians and were in a ROAM catamaran. Their description of the volcanic rocks was that they were "made up of pumice stones from marble to basketball size such that water was not visible." This could be a storehouse of marine lives and organisms, which could breathe life into the dying corals.

CNN reports about the find. The pumice rock is full of holes and cavities and floats in the ocean. It is similar to an iceberg with the majority portion remaining submerged. The initial indications are that it is drifting towards Australia and could hit the coast within the next 7-10 months. It is difficult to predict where it would make contact because that will depend on ocean currents and winds.

Coral bleaching on the Great Barrier Reef

The marine heatwaves caused by climate change during 2016 and 2017 led to mass bleaching of corals on the Great Barrier Reef. This was a global effect. Scott Bryan is a professor at the Queensland University of Technology. He is an expert in geology and geochemistry.

In his opinion, the current pumice raft is moving at a slow speed and its progress would depend on a number of variables like winds, waves, and direction of surface currents.

CNN goes on to add that the professor said events like this are not strange.

These keep happening and innumerable pieces of pumice keep coming to the surface. He says, “Pumice rafts are one way that the ocean can redistribute diverse sea life.” There could be some positives from the latest eruption because the rock could bring along with it diverse new colonies of life. Of course, there could also be the risk of importing invasive species. Therefore, once it reaches Australia, experts must analyze its contents.

The pumice raft holds promises

According to The Guardian, the size of the pumice raft is around 58 sq-miles and it was the result of an underwater volcano. It erupted about August 7 and was captured by satellite images. An Australian couple saw it first on August 17 as they were sailing a catamaran to Fiji. They are now working with Scott Bryan and have provided photographs and samples of the volcanic rock.

Bryan is a geologist and feels the raft will be the temporary home for innumerable marine organisms. These could end up as being a “potential mechanism for restocking the Great Barrier Reef.” Pumice forms from the rapid cooling of frothy molten rock. The result is the formation of lightweight bubble-rich rock that can float and be vehicles to transport marine lives including microorganisms.

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