We had travelled to the other side of the globe, and found ourselves on a fantastic beach on the Isle of Pines, part of New Caledonia. The beach was sandy, the sky was blue, and the water was comfy. Strange limestone structures rose out of the sea, and odd trees covered the dune behind us. It could be mistaken for paradise.But paradise had something strange in it: floating rocks. About 10 feet from the surf was a long line what looked like popcorn stretching down the beach. In the surf, larger stones were found, some of which were teeming with sea life, including gooseneck barnacles that waved and snapped whentheywere removed from the water.It was pumice, of course, but why was it washing up on this non-volcanic island? The answer lay over 1,000 miles away in somewhere called the Kermadec arc. The Havre Volcano had erupted, and released enough material to make a pumice raft that measured between 7,500 and 10,000 square MILES. That’s larger than Israel.In time, the giant pumice raft had broken up and pieces as large a basketballs made their way to the islands of the South Pacific, including our idyllic beach.
If you’d like to visit this volcano, you’ll need some equipment: namely a submarine. The Havre Volcano is about a half mile underwater. But each time it erupts, it gets a bit closer to the surface.
Why Happy Fun Rock? Some of our group took to playing catch with a baseball-sized piece of stone. It was all in good fun until someone missed a catch, and then the pumice’s stoney nature came out: it hurt. Thus, there was to be no taunting of happy fun rock forever more. If you’ve missed the reference, you’ll need to research some old Saturday Night Live clips.
Happy Fun Rock now resides in the permanent collection of the College of Curiosity.
UPDATE: reader Deb noticed that there already is a Happy Fun Rock: it’s an item in World of Warcraft!