Marshall Islands: Islands 'grow back' after Pacific storm

Nadikdik Atoll, also known as Knox Atoll Image copyright NASA
Image caption Nadikdik Atoll, otherwise known as Knox Atoll, was largely destroyed in 1905

A string of Pacific islands have apparently "grown back" after they were devastated by a typhoon a century ago.

A powerful typhoon in 1905 killed all but two inhabitants of the Nadikdik Atoll - part of the Marshall Islands - and washed away most of the islands' landmass. But the islands seem to have re-established themselves - one has become a fully vegetated, stable island again - while several smaller islands have reappeared and formed into a single, larger landmass, the New Zealand Herald reports.

"The storm obviously generated huge amounts of sediment and threw up large amounts of coral on to the islands, which has helped them to re-organise themselves," says Dr Murray Ford of the University of Auckland.

Aerial photographs taken across seven decades since 1945 show that vegetated areas on the previously barren islands has grown by nearly a quarter, a report on the NZCity website says.

The phenomenon could have huge significance for low-lying islands across the Pacific threatened by rising sea levels, scientists say. "The take-home message is really that a high magnitude event can both destroy the islands, and set about a series of processes that enables them to return," Dr Ford said.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The Marshall Islands comprise over 1,000 different islands

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