Metis Shoal

Coordinates: 19°10′59″S 174°52′01″W / 19.183°S 174.867°W / -19.183; -174.867
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Lateiki in 1995

Metis Shoal, also known as Lateiki Island, is a volcanic island at the top of a submarine volcano in Tonga, located between the islands of Kao and Late. The current island formed in October 2019, when a smaller island disappeared after 24 years.


The shoal was named by the captain of HMS Metis in 1875, who found a small volcanic island protruding from the ocean. The island was reported as being 200m long and 37m high by HMS Sappho in 1878, and as 480m high in 1890, but had eroded away completely by 1898, leaving a shoal covered by 4m of water.[1] Eruptions and short-lived islands have been reported as far back as 1781, according to the Global Volcanism Program.[2] In December 1967 an eruption produced another short-lived island,[3] which disappeared by the end of 1968.[1] An eruption in 1979 discharged large amounts of pumice, and formed an island 16km in diameter.[4] The new island was named "Lateiki" ("lies besides Late")[1] and claimed by Tonga in a flag-raising ceremony,[5] but soon eroded beneath the sea surface.[2]

1995–2019 island[edit]

Metis Shoal Volcano eruption, Tonga, with added IR overlay - October 20th, 2019 (48936604791)

During an eruption in 1995, a new island (latitude: 19.18°S, longitude: 174.8°W) appeared which had a diameter of 280 metre and a height of 43 metre following the growth of a lava dome above the surface. On 7 December 2006 the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) flew over Metis Shoal and Home Reef at the request of volcanologists from the Institute of Geological & Nuclear Sciences (IGNS) to take photos of Metis Shoal.

Another eruption commenced in October 2019.[6] This eruption was first reported by Tongan vessel MV Ngutulei on the morning of 14 October 2019 and continued for more than two weeks. Photos were later taken by aircraft from Real Tonga and Air New Zealand, which showed that Metis Shoal had completely sunk.

New island[edit]

The Tonga Geological Service announced on 6 November 2019 that the eruption in October produced a new and bigger island, about 120 metres west of the island which disappeared. The new island was estimated to be 100 metres wide and 400 metres long, which is three times bigger than the previous one.[7][8][9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lateiki: Tonga's new jack-in-the-box island". Pacific Islands Monthly. Vol. 50, no. 11. 1 November 1979. p. 30-33. Retrieved 24 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ a b "Lateiki: General information". Global volcanism program. Retrieved 26 December 2021.
  3. ^ "A NEW SOUTH SEAS ISLAND IS BORN..." Pacific Islands Monthly. Vol. 39, no. 1. 1 January 1968. p. 26-27. Retrieved 26 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ "Volcano Island". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier. 29 June 1979. p. 8. Retrieved 26 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  5. ^ "Island claimed for Tonga". Papua New Guinea Post-Courier. 3 August 1979. p. 6. Retrieved 26 December 2021 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Yeo, I. A.; McIntosh, I. M.; Bryan, S. E.; Tani, K.; Dunbabin, M.; Metz, D.; Collins, P. C.; Stone, K.; Manu, M. S. (6 May 2022). "The 2019–2020 volcanic eruption of Late'iki (Metis Shoal), Tonga". Scientific Reports. 12 (1): 7468. Bibcode:2022NatSR..12.7468Y. doi:10.1038/s41598-022-11133-8. PMC 9076857. PMID 35523824.
  7. ^ "Eruption creates new bigger Lateiki Island". Matangi Tonga. November 6, 2019.
  8. ^ "Volcanic eruption creates new island in Tongan archipelago". The Guardian. 2019-11-07. Archived from the original on 2022-09-18.
  9. ^ Michael Daly (7 November 2019). "Wait to see whether Tongan island created by undersea eruption will last long". Stuff. Retrieved 25 December 2021.

External links[edit]

19°10′59″S 174°52′01″W / 19.183°S 174.867°W / -19.183; -174.867