Floating volcanic rock could save the Great Barrier Reef

Volcanos that explode on land spew liquid rock, gas and debris into the air around, but when those erupt underneath the ocean waves a different series of event take place.

When a volcano erupted underwater  near the island nation of Tonga a massive raft of a floating rock was produced.

Months after the eruption the rock has floated all the way at Australia. Researches say that this piece of rock that packed in with bubbles of air, could revive the struggling great barrier reef from climate change.

Ocean warming has triggered vast amounts of reef bleaching. When bleaching occurs the water around gets too warm for organisms to live and are forced to die or relocate.

Recovering from bleaching is something that takes a lot of time and some luck.

That’s where the massive raft of pumice comes in. Researchers are incredibly excited that the pumice made its way to Australia, and they see the potential for it to do some serious good. Climate change is still a problem, of course, but this event could give the reef a “boost” of sorts.

“Pumice rafts alone won’t help mitigate directly the effects of climate change on the Great Barrier Reef,” Professor Scott Bryan of the Queensland University of Technology said in a statement. “This is about a boost of new recruits, of new corals and other reef-building organisms, that happens every five years or so. It’s almost like a vitamin shot for the Great Barrier Reef.”

“Each piece of pumice is a home, and a vehicle for an organism, and it’s just tremendous,” Brown said. “The sheer numbers of individuals and this diversity of species is being transported thousands of kilometres in only a matter of months is really quite phenomenal.”

It won’t be a cure-all, but there’s reason to be optimistic that the volcanic material, having gathered untold numbers of organisms during its trip across the ocean, could have a serious positive impact.