TONGA VOLCANIC ACTIVITY
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano – located just 30 kilometres south-southeast of remote island nation Tonga – erupted on Saturday in what some scientists have called may be the largest volcanic eruption ever witnessed by scientists in modern times.
Erupting in spectacular fashion, the “Subduction volcano” (volcanos that are found along tectonic plate boundaries) sent a sonic-boom around the globe, being heard 10,000 km away in Alaska and sending plumes of smoke more than 12.2 km into the atmosphere.
High-temperature geochemist and volcanic researcher Oliver Nebel of Monash University told the ABC that “Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano was on a roughly 1,000-year eruption cycle”, with the eruption triggering mass tsunami warnings across the globe – including in Australia.
The explosion is said to have been caused by highly pressurised water vapor being quickly released due to hot magma from under the earths crust hitting the oceans lower region.
Dr Heather Hanley, researcher and volcanologist, told the ABC that the process is “like opening a champagne bottle” – but without the celebrations.
TONGA VOLCANO: ARE THERE OTHERS LIKE IT?
Across the globe scientists have identified approximately 1,300 “active volcanoes”, with just 20 of these showing signs of volcanic activity within any given day. But for a volcano to be considered “active” volcanologists say that it must have erupted in the last 10,000 years.
Though this may sound like minimal activity, the Smithsonian Institute’s Global Volcanism Program has marked 46 of these volcanoes as having “continuing eruption” status – with multiple erupting on a daily basis.
Scientists have concluded that it is difficult to tell whether we have seen the last of explosions like this and the resulting impacts of such a force of nature. But they have also noted that just because one volcano erupts does not mean that others are more likely to erupt as well.
The force of the eruption has reportedly lead to major infrastructure damage on telephone lines, roads and residential housing – due to tsunami’s throughout the region. Check out of the videos below for more details: