Floating island the size of New Jersey discovered in South Pacific
If you need some pedicure supplies, head on down to the South Pacific, because apparently they have a floating shelf of pumice stone bigger than New Jersey. You could walk around on it for days and never rub your scaly heels on the same square inch twice.
The New Zealand Navy discovered the 7,500-square-mile slab of buoyant rock, which an Australian officer described as “the weirdest thing I’ve seen in 18 years at sea.” It’s likely the result of an underwater volcano belching into the ocean. Rapid cooling from the water turns the lava into lightweight, airy pumice stone.
In photos and the video below, the pumice looks like streaks of foam on the water, but descriptions suggest it appears a lot more solid from sea level. Lieutenant Tim Oscar described it as looking like an ice shelf, although the pumice is much lighter and less harmful to a ship than ice:
As far ahead as I could observe was a raft of pumice moving up and down with the swell. The rock looked to be sitting two feet above the surface of the waves, and lit up a brilliant white colour in the spotlight. It looked exactly like the edge of an ice shelf. … I knew the pumice was lightweight and posed no danger to the ship. Nonetheless it was quite daunting to be moving toward it at 14 knots. It took about 3 to 4 minutes to travel through the raft of pumice and as predicted there was no damage. As we moved through the raft of pumice we used the spotlights to try and find the edge — but it extended as far as we could see.
This is probably not a safe island to live on, what with the boats punching through it and the underwater volcano and the possibly not even being a solid sheet of rock. But between the sea salt and the 7,500 square miles of pumice, if you can manage to build a house there, you will have the softest goddamn feet on the planet.
A naval officer calls this “the weirdest thing I’ve seen in 18 years at sea”, io9.