Strange New Island Rises Up From Arabian Sea After Earthquake

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Sept. 25 2013 12:32 PM

Strange New Island Rises Up From Arabian Sea After Earthquake

Island off of Pakistan's Gwadar coastline
The island above seems to have risen from the sea off Pakistan's Gwadar coastline following an earthquake hundreds of miles away. Scientists say it may be the product of a "mud volcano" or a "rotational landslide."

Photo by Stringer/Reuters

The deadly earthquake that hit Pakistan on Tuesday was so powerful that it appears to have created a new island—or something.

The quake, whose epicenter was inland, propelled some type of land formation to rise clean out of the water some 320 miles away, about a third of a mile off of Pakistan's Gwadar coastline, Reuters reported:

Television channels showed images of a stretch of rocky terrain rising above the sea level, with a crowd of bewildered people gathering on the shore to witness the rare phenomenon.

The island is said to be about 20 to 40 feet high and 100 feet long. Photos showed amazed locals milling around on top of it.

Don't expect it to stick around forever, though. Experts told NBC News it would be highly improbable for an earthquake to cause the actual seabed to rise up so far from its epicenter. Rather, the formation may be the result of a "mud volcano"—a "jet of mud, sand and water that gushed to the surface as the temblor churned and pressurized that slurry under the ocean floor." Local residents told the network they saw a similar island appear off the coast following a 1968 earthquake, then sink out of sight a year later.

But one geologist told Yahoo News the formation could also be a result of a "rotational landslide" rather than a mud volcano. We likely won't know for sure until scientists get a chance to study the thing more closely.

People explore new island off of Pakistan's Gwadar coastline
People walk around on the weird island-type thing that rose from the sea following the Pakistan earthquake.


Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.



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