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A Look At The Sudden Island Created By The Pakistani Earthquake
September 26, 2013
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Pakistanis across the province of Baluchistan are still digging themselves out from the magnitude 7.7 earthquake that struck the region on Tuesday. The death toll, now over 350, has been steadily rising as bodies are discovered in the wreckage of collapsed buildings. One unexpected outcome of the quake was the sudden creation of a new island in the Arabian Sea, as the CBC's Heather Hiscox reports:

"It's not a common way for islands to be created," Andrew Miall, a geology professor at the University of Toronto, told CBC News. "But vertical movement of the crust is really common, and it just so happens that, in this case, the crust was very near the surface of the water." Indeed, a hydrographer with the Pakistan Navy told CBC that the sea is only six or seven metres deep in the area.

The small island measures about 30 by 76 metres, not much longer than an international hockey rink. Surprisingly, it's not the first such "mud volcano" to appear off the coast of Pakistan: similar ones followed quakes in 1999 and 2010, and were eventually swallowed back into the sea during monsoon season. Mud volcanoes are formed when gases stored under the sea force hot water and mud together, often following seismic activity.

“It is likely that the island will be very temporary — it will probably be washed back into the sea by erosion due to wave action fairly quickly," John Dixon, a geology professor at Queen’s University, told CBC. "In fact, one can see from the photo that this is already starting."

The island has been attracting local residents, who've stopped by to collect souvenirs. Pakistani authorities have warned them to stay away due to the presence of methane gas, which poses a combustion hazard.



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