Islands Disappear Under The Sea

May 15, 2016 By Deepa Gopal
Deepa Gopal's picture

Have you heard of the mythical island of Atlantis, written by Plato, that disappeared under the sea? 

If we need to find a modern reference to it, we need to travel to a remote chain of islands in the Pacific Ocean. According to researchers from Australia, rising sea levels have swallowed five of the Solomon Islands. 

Fortunately, none of these islands were inhabited by people. However, another six islands have seen large areas disappear underwater. This has forced residents to relocate to higher ground and rebuild their villages. But there is no guarantee that they are safe. 

Where Are Solomon Islands?

The Solomon Islands along with Papua New Guinea, Fiji, and other smaller islands are collectively known as Melanesia. They are very close to the Asian and Australian continents. Scientists believe these islands were once connected to the mainland and started drifting apart 70,000 years ago.

The five islands that disappeared are called reef islands as they are made out of coral reefs. The correct word to describe them is 'atolls'. Unlike an island which describes land surrounded by water, atolls are "ring-shaped lands" surrounding a lagoon.

Did you know that atolls actually have their beginning in an undersea volcano? The natural geologic processes that lead to the formation of atolls are fascinating, and can take up to 30 million years! So how do atolls form?

  • Volcanic activity under the sea gives birth to a landmass that slowly rises above the water level.
  • Coral reefs form around the rim of these newly formed islands. Corals are tiny animals called polyps. New corals grow on top of old or dead ones.
  • The island starts sinking back to sea level, while the corals continue to grow upwards.
  • By the time the island completely submerges underwater, it leaves a beautiful ring of coral with a lagoon in between.
  • In some atolls, the central lagoon gets completely dried up. 

The Future Of These Islands

Scientists estimate that the ocean levels have been increasing at a rate of 0.13 inches every year as a result of climate change and melting glaciers.

Many low-lying regions around the world have cause for concern. Islands belonging to the Maldives in the Indian Ocean, and Papua New Guinea in the Pacific have lost land or have been completely submerged. 

The rising waters cause more than just a loss of land in low-lying regions. The salty sea waters affect underground freshwater sources, making them unsuitable for drinking. They can also potentially affect the salt content of rivers.

The impact could be far-reaching with adverse effects on freshwater biodiversity, and a country's economy. This is also creating a new class of refugees -- people fleeing the effects of climate change.


julianar's picture
julianar November 7, 2016 - 9:55am


jdimauro's picture
jdimauro September 9, 2016 - 6:30am

this is a very interesting story

rheppler's picture
rheppler August 31, 2016 - 8:38am

Many people belive in climate change because of a 2008 documentry called an inconvienent truth. It was made by former vice president  Al Gore. He gets money from carbon taxes and he has a mansion in Tennessee makes more carbon dioxide  than you make in a week. Clean energy sources are not better. Windmills kill millions of birds each year some of them endangered. If the clean energy goals are met by 2020 the golden eagle will go extinct


MossLady's picture
MossLady August 15, 2016 - 7:33am

THIS IS BAD!!! We rlly need to stop this! ="(

selina123's picture
selina123 July 2, 2016 - 4:33pm
gabejohnston26's picture
gabejohnston26 June 2, 2016 - 1:02pm

I agree with @marmotron

gabejohnston26's picture
gabejohnston26 June 2, 2016 - 1:01pm

ya @jeff123456789 people do care

Aditya08's picture
Aditya08 May 29, 2016 - 2:14pm
This is terrible!
NiteKangaroo1's picture
NiteKangaroo1 May 27, 2016 - 4:47am


jhunt22's picture
jhunt22 May 25, 2016 - 11:32am

I love this article

banananaman's picture
banananaman May 25, 2016 - 11:31am

Hope it doesn't happen here.

drumdude25k's picture
drumdude25k May 25, 2016 - 11:30am

whoa this is cool

Samanvitha's picture
Samanvitha November 28, 2016 - 4:56pm

How could you say "wow" to an artical like this?

Marmotron's picture
Marmotron May 25, 2016 - 11:27am


Marmotron's picture
Marmotron May 25, 2016 - 11:26am


Marmotron's picture
Marmotron May 25, 2016 - 11:22am


A lot of people Really DO care!!!

semisdebeste's picture
semisdebeste May 23, 2016 - 2:51am
Wow this is very cool. I really like this!!!
jeff123456789's picture
jeff123456789 May 19, 2016 - 4:43am

no one cares

Aditya08's picture
Aditya08 May 29, 2016 - 2:15pm
Would you like your home being sucked into the sea? Do you want family drowning in high waters!
jhunt22's picture
jhunt22 May 25, 2016 - 11:34am

people do care

colorblast100's picture
colorblast100 May 18, 2016 - 8:33am

This is amazing!

gracem3's picture
gracem3 May 17, 2016 - 5:03am


NiteKangaroo1's picture
NiteKangaroo1 May 27, 2016 - 4:53am