© Fredrik Fransson
Fredrik Fransson and crew witnessed this volcano rear its head above the water's surface to form a new island in the Pacific in 2006. Increasing underwater vulcanism causes more water to evaporate from the Oceans.
This email forward arrives with a series of photographs that depict a yacht's encounter with a large area of floating volcanic stones and the apparent birth of a new volcanic island in the South Pacific Ocean. Although the images are certainly unusual, they are genuine. Both the phenomena of the floating stones and the newly formed volcanic island have now been well documented by a variety of reliable sources including NASA.

The images in the email were taken from a post on the blog operated by Fredrik Fransson and the crew of the yacht 'Maiken'. In August 2006, the Maiken was sailing in the South Pacific near Tonga when it came across a large area of floating volcanic stones (pumice). When lava with a high gas and water content erupts from a volcano and then cools it can produce pumice, a very light rock material filled with gas bubbles. Pumice is the only kind of rock that can float on water. A large mass of pumice floating on the ocean surface is known as a "pumice raft".

The Maiken attempted to sail into this massive pumice raft but was soon forced to turn back:
And then we sailed into a vast, many miles wide, belt of densely packed pumice. We were going by motor due to lack of wind and within seconds Maiken slowed down from seven to one knot. We were so fascinated and busy taking pictures that we plowed a couple of hundred meter into this surreal floating stone field before we realized that we had to turn back. Just as we came out of the stone field and entered reasonably normal water we noticed that there came no cooling water from the engine.
Several other vessels in the region at the time also observed large pumice rafts.

The day after their encounter with the pumice raft, the Maiken crew discovered the volcano itself:
A couple of hours ago we identified the active volcano as the one close to Home reef, and we are on our way there now to take a closer look. We are two miles from it and we can see the volcano clearly. One mile in diameter and with four peaks and a central crater smoking with steam and once in a while an outburst high in the sky with lava and ashes. I think were the first ones out here so perhaps we could claim the island and name it?!
Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson
This is not a beach, it is volcanic stones floating on the water.

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson
The trail left by the yacht... through the sand

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson
And then this was spotted ... just behind them... ash and steam rising from the ocean...

© Fredrik Fransson
And, while they were watching...

© Fredrik Fransson
A plume of black ash...

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson

© Fredrik Fransson
A brand new island formed...

© Fredrik Fransson
The following satellite image published by NASA's Earth Observatory clearly shows a large pumice raft as well as the new island:
© Jesse Allen / NASA Earth Observatory