Pumice Island floating on the Pacific

A Giant Raft of Volcanic Rock From an Underwater Eruption Could Help Revive the Great Barrier Reef.

A mass of floating pumice so large it’s being tracked via satellite is making its way to Australia, and with it a range of marine organisms including corals that could help restore the threatened Great Barrier Reef.

The giant sheet of rock — around 58 square miles — is the result of an underwater volcanic eruption near the Pacific archipelago of Tonga two weeks ago, Australia’s ABC News reports.

“We’re going to have millions of individual corals and lots of other organisms all coming in together with the potential of finding new homes along our coastline,” Queensland University of Technology geologist Associate Professor Scott Bryan said.

Barnacles, corals, crabs and snails are among the organisms Bryan said will hitch a ride on the pumice “raft” when it washes up along Australia’s coastline in less than a year. “[The raft] is a natural mechanism for species to colonize, restock and grow in a new environment,” he added.

The world’s largest coral reef, home to a variety of marine life, has come under the threat as a result of climate change in recent years. Warming temperatures have created a coral bleaching effect that causes the marine invertebrates to lose their color and eventually die.


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