On September 24, 2013, a major strike-slip earthquake rattled western Pakistan, killing at least 350 people and leaving more than 100,000 homeless. The 7.7 magnitude quake struck the Baluchistan province of northwestern Pakistan. Amidst the destruction, a new island was created offshore in the Paddi Zirr (West Bay) near Gwadar, Pakistan.
On September 26, 2013, the Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA’s Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured the top image of that new island, which sits roughly one kilometer (0.6 miles) offshore. Likely a “mud volcano,” the island rose from the seafloor near Gwadar on September 24, shortly after the earthquake struck about 380 kilometers (230 miles) inland. The lower image, acquired by the Operational Land Imager on the Landsat 8 satellite, shows the same area on April 17, 2013.
In the satellite images, lighter shades of green and tan in the water reveal shallow seafloor or suspended sediment. The water depth around the new island is roughly 15 to 20 meters (50 to 65 feet), according to marine geologist Asif Inam of Pakistan’s National Institute of Oceanography. “The floor in that area is generally flat, but the gradient in this area changes quite abruptly,” Inam said. The top image from ALI is also clear enough to show the parallel ripples of waves marching toward the shore.
The aerial photograph below from the National Institute of Oceanography provides a close-up of the landform, estimated to stretch 75 to 90 meters (250 to 300 feet) across and standing 15 to 20 meters (60 to 70 feet) above the water line. The surface is a mixture of mud, fine sand, and solid rock. Click on the downloadable video below the image for a first-hand view.