Science

Huge Undersea Volcanic Eruption Off Tonga Captured In Stunning Satellite Video

The powerful eruption of an underwater volcano in Tonga on Saturday (January 15) was captured as it happened in stunning images from an Earth observation satellite, showing the sheer power of the explosive event in the South Pacific.

The eruption of the volcano on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Island is visible as a spectacular explosion in views from the GOES West Earth-observing satellite operated by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). . A video of the eruption shows a large plume of smoke from the volcano rising into the atmosphere like a giant mushroom during the eruption as a shock wave spreads from Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, one of the 170 islands that make up the South Pacific kingdom. from Tonga.

Related: 10 Incredible Volcanoes In Our Solar System

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, located in the Kingdom of Tonga in the South Pacific, erupts in a massive explosion as seen from space in this animation of images from NOAA’s GOES West satellite on January 15, 2022. . (Image credit: NOAA)

The eruption generated a 4-foot tsunami that hit the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa, which is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) south of the volcano. A sonic boom from the eruption was heard across the Pacific Ocean, reaching as far as Alaska, according to the Associated Press.

Nuku’alofa was reportedly covered in a thick film of volcanic dust, according to AP. There have been no official reports of injuries or damage in the Tongan capital, but its internet access was disrupted by the event, the AP added.

The volcano in Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai first erupted on Dec. 20 and then exploded with a massive eruption on Jan. 13, which was also detected by GOES West, NOAA officials said in a statement. That eruption was seven times more powerful than the December event and sent a huge plume of ash and gas more than 20 kilometers (12 miles) into Earth’s atmosphere.

Saturday’s eruption also sent an ash plume nearly 12 miles high, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told the AP. New Zealand officials hope to send military surveillance flights over the volcano on Monday to assess its condition, followed by aid and supplies to Tonga, where water supplies may be contaminated, Ardern added.

Email Tariq Malik at tmalik@ or follow him @tariqjmalik. Follow us on @Spacedotcom, Facebook and Instagram.

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