After a deadly 7.7-magnitude earthquake struck Pakistan’s Baluchistan province Sept., 24, 2013, a new island was spotted 150 miles northeast of the quake’s epicenter. While the exact cause of this phenomenon is not known, there are theories.
The new island is located about 350 feet offshore of the city of Gwadar, Pakistan. It is estimated to be anywhere from 20 to 100 feet high and 100 to 200 feet wide and likely made of mud and sand.
One theory is that the new island is a mud volcano. This occurs when seismic waves pass by gases that are trapped deeper down in the ground causing them to be released to the surface and forming a mud volcano. If enough mud is lifted from the ocean floor, an island forms.
It was reported that an island appeared in the same spot in 1945 after an 8.1-magnitude earthquake. That island was believed to have been caused by a release of methane gas, causing a bubble of mud. It then disappeared in less than a year. This is common with mud volcanoes because the mud erodes away in the water.
Mud volcanoes are typically less than 3-7 feet tall, but the mud volcanoes in Pakistan’s Chandragup Complex are as high as 330 feet, reports NASA’s Earth Observatory.
Another possible theory is that the island was formed by a landslide. This is because the island is bow shaped and not conical like a mud volcano. Rotational landslides move along a curved surface, like the inside of a spoon, reports Live Science.
Further evidence will be collected to determine the exact cause of the island’s formation.