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In Photos: A Floating 'Island' of Rocks

Pumice Raft

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: New Zealand Defence Force)

On Aug. 9, the HMNZS Canterbury, a Royal New Zealand Air Force ship, observed a stretch of floating pumice, measuring a whopping 300 miles (482 kilometers) in length and more than 30 miles (48 km) wide.

Off the Coast

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: New Zealand Defence Force)

The pumice "island" was floating in the South Pacific Ocean off the coast of New Zealand.

Porous Pumice

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: New Zealand Defence Force)

Pumice, which forms when volcanic lava cools quickly, is riveted with pores due to gas trapped inside the lava as it hardens and can therefore float.

Veiled By Clouds

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

The undersea eruption responsible for the pumice raft is hidden by clouds in this morning image, which was taken by NASA's Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer on July 19, 2012.

Spotting the Pumice

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: Jeff Schmaltz, LANCE MODIS Rapid Response Team at NASA GSFC)

On the same day, though this time in the afternoon, NASA's MODIS snaps imagery clearly showing the Havre Seamount eruption, including the gray pumice, ash-stained water and the volcanic plume.

Pumice in July

Floating pumice in the South Pacific.

(Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory)

This NASA MODIS image, taken on July 30, 2012, reveals the spreading pumice "raft" near Havre Seamount. (Pumice located by Erik Klemetti on Wired.com)

Havre Seamount

Havre Seamount

(Image credit: NIWA/GNS Science)

A multibeam echosounder image showing the undersea volcano called Havre Seamount, including a new cone that formed during the July 2012 eruption.