0431 GMT January 23, 2019
Instead, new data suggested it could stick around for up to 30 years, researchers reported at a news conference at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting, according to sciencenews.org.
Studying the life and death of this island may provide clues to Mars’ wetter past.
The new island, informally dubbed Hunga Tonga‒Hunga Ha’apai, is part of the Tonga island chain.
Since January 2015, NASA satellites have tracked the island’s growth and erosion month-to-month.
James Garvin, chief scientist of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, said, “Scientists are using those data to estimate its life span.”
In the first six months, waves rapidly eroded the volcanic tuff, hardened ash that forms the island’s central cone.
Then that erosion slowed, and the island began to change shape as waves redistributed some of the eroded sediment to form a land bridge to a nearby island.
Researchers now give the island six to 30 years of life — after that, only the land bridge will remain.
Garvin said the island’s life cycle may help scientists better understand Mars’ past.
Finding similar erosion patterns on Mars’ volcanoes could help researchers understand whether the eruptions occurred in an ocean that’s now vanished.