Giant island of volcanic rocks seen

Aug. 10, 2012 at 4:49 PM

AUCKLAND, New Zealand, Aug. 10 (UPI) -- A mass of small volcanic rocks nearly the size of Belgium has been discovered floating off the coast of New Zealand, officials said.

The floating raft of golf ball-sized pumice rocks, covering almost 10,000 square miles, was spotted by a New Zealand air force plane about 620 miles northwest of Auckland.

Scientists taken to the to the rocks Thursday night by a New Zealand navy ship said they were likely spewed up in an eruption of an underwater volcano, a release from the navy said.

The floating rocks are a brilliant white, like a giant ice shelf, when seen under a spotlight, navy Lt. Tim Oscar said.

Scientist said they don't believe the floating pumice is related to the onshore ash eruption this week of a Mount Tongariro, a volcano on New Zealand's North Island.

Officials say the island of floating small rocks poses no danger to shipping.

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