Photo Gallery: Quake Lifts Island Ten Feet Out of Ocean

Solomon islands photo gallery
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April 10, 2007—Residents of Ranongga island in the South Pacific Ocean sit on a massive coral reef that was exposed by the magnitude 8.1 earthquake that struck in the Solomon Islands last week, sparking a deadly tsunami.

The quake lifted Ranongga ten feet (three meters) out of the sea, widening beaches by up to 230 feet (70 meters), according to news reports. The uplift has left some of the island's pristine coral reefs fatally exposed.

"These are not unusual occurrences for an earthquake of this magnitude," said Rick MacPherson of the Coral Reef Alliance in San Francisco, California. "During the Asian tsunami two years ago, Banda Aceh [in Indonesia], stretching down almost the extent of the peninsula, experienced similar uplift."

In some places the beaches in the Solomons now resemble a barren moonscape with once vibrant corals bleaching under the sun.

On one beach the quake even revealed a sunken vessel that locals believe is a Japanese patrol boat from World War II. (Related: John F. Kennedy's wartime rescue in the Solomon Islands.)

—Stefan Lovgren

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