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Zalzala Koh: The ‘Earthquake Island’ Near Pakistan Has Vanished

While nothing lasts forever, you might be forgiven for thinking that an island would typically last more than six years.

Zalzala Koh, an island that was formed off the coast of Pakistan in 2013 after a powerful 7.7 magnitude earthquake, it turns out, has had a very short-lived existence of only six years.


The ‘Earthquake Mountain’

Zalzala Koh was birthed in 2013, after Pakistan’s devastating earthquake that killed 800 people and destroyed 21,000 homes.

Curiously, the destructive event also led to the new land being formed via the volcanic forces that were in action during the quake.

April 17, 2013 Source: NASA/Earth Observing-1 Satellite

Once the earthquake subsided, it was discovered that an island had formed just off the coast of Pakistan, near the city of Gwadar. It had been produced by a mud volcano during the quake. 

“The island is really just a big pile of mud from the seafloor that got pushed up [by the seismic activity]” Bill Barnhart, a geologist at the U.S. Geological Survey told NASA Earth Observatory at the time.

Zalzala Koh: The 'Earthquake Island' Near Pakistan Has Vanished
September 26, 2013 Source: NASA/Earth Observing-1 Satellite

Swallowed by the sea

Now, new images from NASA show that Zalzala Koh has been submerged by the sea — though it is still somewhat visible beneath the waves.

In the recently revealed satellite images, the island’s short lifespan has been clearly mapped out.

Zalzala Koh: The 'Earthquake Island' Near Pakistan Has Vanished
Source: NASA/Earth Observing-1 Satellite

The island, which was 20 meters high, 90 meters wide, and 40 meters long when first found, was never expected to last for long. Scientists immediately predicted that the tides and waves would quickly erode the muddy formation.

So long, but not goodbye?

As Science Alert reports, however, this may not be the end of the muddy methane formation. Other islands, like Malan Island to the east, have emerged and vanished from the sea on more than one occasion. 

There are various mud volcanoes in the region, due to seismic activity caused by the Arabian and Eurasian tectonic plates. Unfortunately, newly formed islands are usually remnants of devastating earthquakes — Malan island formed after an earthquake and tsunami in Balochistan in 1945.

Source: Interesting Engineering