Back around July 19th last year, there was a massive eruption of an undersea volcano in the Pacific Ocean, several hundred kilometres north-east of New Zealand. The eruption occurred near the Kermadec Islands, which belong to New Zealand.
No one was aware of the volcanic activity until the raft of pumice stone was photographed by a lady on a commercial flight about 12 days later. Even then no one took much notice until a New Zealand Defence Force Orion aircraft, returning from patrol in Samoa, spotted an enormous raft of the grey volcanic stone. It has been described as being the size of Belgium or Israel, several hundred square kms in size.
There had been evidence of some seismic activity in the area at the time, and examination of satellite imagery confirmed the location of the volcanic activity.
The eruption was sufficiently forceful to spill lava up to the surface 1100 metres above the crater! Thank goodness it did not happen on land!
Pumice is formed when the lava, containing airbubbles, cools so quickly that it remains very porous, and therefore very light. It poses no danger to shipping.
Most pieces were golf and tennis ball size, although some were larger. Evidently the scientists who first started investigating the phenomenon found beach ball size pieces.
There were a number of expeditions down to Slaughter Bay around that time, with people seizing the opportunity to get something for nothing!