Researchers Map Newest Island in Tonga Using High-Resolution 3D Mapping Technology
The Research vessel (R/V) Falkor successfully completed its research mission to explore the newest island in the Kingdom of Tonga found in the Southwestern Pacific.
R/V Falkor is equipped with state-of-the-art mapping capabilities which enabled the completion of the study in record time. It was deployed to map a large area of the undersea section of the newly discovered volcanic island which is currently unofficially called Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai (HTHH).
NASA partnered with Schmidt Ocean Institute and Columbia University to produce high-resolution map of the submerged part of a volcano which was initially discovered in January 2015.
With the help of NASA's technology, Schmidt and Columbia University was able to "produce a high resolution submarine topographic map" of the undersea portion of the volcano discovered in 2015.
The images will provide scientist with better view of the typographic details of the land which is significant for further studies and in understanding the new island as a whole.
The RV Falkor completed its 28-day expedition in the Southwestern Pacific. RV Falkor surveyed the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai Island with the help of with Dr. James Garvin, Chief Scientist at NASA' Goddard Space Flight Center.
NASA is committed to bring their technology for Earth-bound projects so that the expertise, machinery and skills may also be beneficial to projects concerning the Earth.
According to the press release by Schmidt, the landscape dynamics concerning new oceanic island volcanoes occur underwater. "This unique project of opportunity provides scientists at NASA and Columbia's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory with an integrated view of the three dimensional character of the new island from the seafloor to its approximately 130 meters tall summit above sea-level, all at spectacular meter-scale resolution."
This study will also help scientists understand future assignments and in recognizing the topographical behaviors of newly discovered volcanic islands.
It may also be of help to NASA's space exploration since the " hydro-volcanic processes on planets such as Mars where similar-appearing volcanic have been observed."
Volcanic islands are known to develop and diminish rapidly. Based from the initial findings by Dr. Vicki Ferrini and the Goddard Space Flight Center, they found out that the new island lost almost 30 percent of its land area in less than two years since its active eruptive phase in January 2015.
This means the surrounding environment of HTHH affects the island drastically. Because of the rapid changes in this volcanic island the orchestrated work of experts and agencies geared towards a common goal is intrinsic in producing factual findings in the fastest and most effective way possible. Just like the High-Resolution 3D Mapping Technology used by experts in studying the newest volcanic island Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai.