(Gianpiero Orbassano)

A volcanic eruption just created the world's newest island — and it is absolutely breathtaking (PHOTOS)

While the South Pacific island looks like an enticing vacation spot, scientists say that might not be a good idea

Maggie Foucault
March 13, 2015 11:42PM (UTC)

Recent photographs show what is reportedly the newest island in the world — and it is spectacular.

Located north west of the main island of Tonga in the South Pacific, the new island is the result of a volcanic eruption in January that delayed flights to and from the island chain. Known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’api, the island was formed by emissions from the Hunga Tonga volcano during its second eruption in five years. The volcano was originally underwater on the floor of the Pacific.


Gianpiero Orbassano, an Italian national who has lived in Tonga for 20 years where he owns a hotel, is believed to be the first to set foot on the island with his son and a friend. On March 6, Orbassano and his group climbed to the top of the crater at the center of the island. His photographs show black volcanic rock jutting out from tropical blue-green water.

The enticing photos have prompted ABC Australia to identify the island as a potential new tourist attraction. But scientists warn that the terrain may be unstable and should not be visited without good reason. According to the BBC, University of Bristol professor Matt Watson pointed out that the island is made up of rock pieces piled on top of each other and hasn’t yet had time to compress and solidify. Watson also said that the loose terrain could be affected by waves, making travel to the island ill-advised.

All photos courtesy of Gianpiero Orbassano. You can check out more of Orbassano's shots here at his Facebook page.


Maggie Foucault

MORE FROM Maggie Foucault

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Nature Pacific Ocean Science Volcanoes

Fearless journalism
in your inbox every day

Sign up for our free newsletter

• • •