The Tonga volcano eruption was so powerful that it sent a visible and tangible shockwave throughout the world. Before the tsunami that was caused by the large explosion, a tsunami advisory was issued to the west coast of the United States. The eruption reached so high into the stratosphere that it was almost unbearable.
These large, explosive events are rare but can have far-reaching consequences. This event has global consequences and can have measurable impacts on the entire globe.
The image below shows the enormous ash cloud from the eruption that has risen high into the stratosphere. There are also tones of sulfur dioxide which is known for having a global cooling effect when ejected large amounts.
Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai is a volcanic island in the Tonga archipelago. It is located northeastern of New Zealand, and east-southeast from Fiji. The image below shows the location of Hunga Tonga volcano in the world.
Hunga Tonga, a submarine volcano. It is therefore essentially completely underwater. It has, however, reached the sea level in an eruption in 2009. Below is an image that shows the island’s underwater structure. It is clear that the island is part of a caldera and is submerged underwater.
Submarine volcanoes are prone to erupting in water. We know that magma and water don’t mix well. This means that they can amplify the already occurring eruptions. explosive eruptionFrom below the ocean surface. The speed at which magma penetrates the ocean floor is key. The more explosive the interaction, the faster it is.
Below is an image taken in 2014 of the island, which has grown significantly since its initial appearance in 2009. The island’s main activity was seen in the central area, where you can see the main vent.
It is located in the active Tonga volcanic arch, a subduction zone that stretches northeast from New Zealand to Fiji. It is located approximately 100km (62 mi) above the very active deep seismic area.
A subduction zone occurs when two tectonic plates collide. One plate goes under the other. These boundaries are. The tectonic plates are pieces of crust that slowly move across the planet’s surface over millions of years. At a subduction zone where two tectonic plate meet, one slides underneath the second, curving into the hot mantle.
A subduction zone can be seen in the United States in the pacific northwest. Here, we can see that the Juan de Fuca plate is sliding underneath the North American plate. This causes earthquakes as well as molten material. The molten material rises, driving the Cascades volcanoes.
The subduction zone can be seen on the image below, if we look again at Hunga Tonga. It can be seen at the right end of this image, where you will see a deep trench. This is the place where the Pacific Plate comes under the Indo-Australian Plate. It is also creating molten matter that rises into the crust, which creates the Tonga volcano arc.
All the subduction zones around the Pacific, form the so-called “Ring of Fire”. Around 75% percent of Earth’s volcanoes (over 450) can be found along the Ring of Fire. And also 90% percent of Earth’s earthquakes occur along its path, including the most violent and dramatic seismic events.
2022 EXPLOSIVE ERRUPTION
After several years of dormancy, the volcano erupted on 20 December 2021. It created a large plume visible from nearby islands. The Volcanic Ash Advisory Center of Wellington issued an advisory to airlines.
Explosions could be heard up to 170km (110mi). The initial eruption continued through the morning of 21/12. Satellite imagery on 25/12/2012 showed that activity was continuing.
On 5 January 2022 volcanic activity slowed down again. Then, on 13 January, it recommenced sending an ash cloud 17km (55,000ft) into space. Below is the satellite image of the Hunga Tonga eruption that occurred on January 13.
The volcano erupted once more on January 15. The volcano erupted again on January 15. It was seven times stronger than the eruption of 20 December 2021. Numerous reports were received about loud booms in Tonga and other nations, including Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and Alaska.
Below is a video animation showing the large explosive blast that Hunga Tonga produced. Take a close look at the Massive shockwavesThat spread from the eruption and eventually reached the entire planet.
Near the eruption, the blast was powerful enough that it caused damage to property and shattered windows. The Tonga Meteorological Services immediately issued a tsunami alert at 5:30 p.m. The tsunami flooded the Tonga coast. A 1.2m (3.9ft) tsunami was observed in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga, and a 0.6m (2.0ft) tsunami in American Samoa.
At 4:00 UTC, the eruption started. A small plume ash was visible in satellite imagery at approximately 4:10UTC. The image is below.
In less than 20 minutes, the ash plume rose high into the troposphere, likely at 13-16km.
The visual perspective from a different angle was stunning. The main central area is visible rising highest, with the ash cloud spreading. Ashfall was being reported from the islands around the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption.
The eruption continued, pushing more material out. The image below shows that the ash cloud began to warm up, rather than creating a large cold cloud. Why is this happening?
The temperature progression is visible with increasing height when you look at the atmospheric layers below. (red line). The troposphere is the lowest layer of the atmosphere and contains all our weather. It is experiencing a temperature drop. The temperature rises with elevation in the stratosphere, however. This means that the clouds in this region will be warmer despite being higher up.
We were able to see the stratospheric layer from the eruption. You can see very warm cloud temperatures below. Based on temperature observations, the ash plume grew to 30 km (18.6mi), which is still well within stratosphere.
The live imagery was stunning. Below you can see that there was a distinct cloud layer on top. It was well within stratosphere. The tropopause, which marks the border between the stratosphere & the troposphere, was marked by the lower bright-fuzzy cloud layer.
A very high level of lightning was detected at this time. Ash cloudIt contains many fine particles that can create charge, much like a storm cloud. Below you can see a lightning detection device, which shows a lot of lightning in the Ash cloud. The total number of lightning strikes that have been detected is now at over 190.000.
The stratospheric cloud began moving west just after 6:00UTC in early morning. This is due to the presence of easterly winds in the stratosphere. The stratospheric cloud moved to the west and slowly revealed the colder, lower tropospheric Ash cloud.
At 6:40UTC the stratospheric portion of the cloud started cooling again. This was a sign it is losing altitude and falling back to the lower levels.
GeoColor imagery shows the separation of the two clouds. Below, you can see a gray cloud moving west. This is the stratospheric ash cloud. It’s driven by the easterly stratospheric winds. The tropospheric ash cloud that is colder (lower), is much more stationary and brighter.
The powerful eruption has caused a lot of damage. sulfur dioxideInto the stratosphere You can see this on the special satellite imagery. The stratosphere is the green cloud layer, which you can see above the main ashcloud. It contains a good amount of sulfur dioxide, which is not yet specified in this article.
The amount of sulfur ejected into stratosphere by the latest eruption is not yet known. The Copernicus EU project has provided an image that shows the total atmospheric sulfur dioxide. This analysis was performed before the eruption but already shows a cloud over Tonga Island from previous eruptions.
Sulfur dioxide, a potent volcanic gas, is well-known. It is well-known that it can cause global cooling if it is ejected in high quantities into the stratosphere. The largest example was the 1991 Pinatubo explosion. It injected around 20 million tons of sulfur dioxide in the stratosphere.
The sulfur reacts with the water to form a layer of aerosol particles. These aerosol particles were spread around the globe by strong stratospheric winds over the next two-years.
Because these particles scatter and absorb incoming sunlight, they create a cooling effect on the Earth’s surface. The Pinatubo eruption caused an increase in aerosol optical depth in stratosphere by 10 to 100 times the normal levels. eruption. As a result, scientists measured a drop in the average global temperature of about 0.6°C (1°F) over a 15-month period.
The global temperature is unlikely to be affected by the Hunga Tonga eruption, which was a series of single blasts that occurred over a short time. If the eruption is prolonged for several hours to days, it could cause a temporary cooling effect. Once the sulfur data is available, we will be able to see what they show.
The ash cloud was already dissolving at 19:40UTC. Satellite imagery did not show any subsequent eruptions, but there were ongoing reports of additional eruptions. They are not visible on satellite imagery if they are happening. This tells us a lot about their low power. CIRA/RAMMB provided the visual satellite images and IR.
Although there is no direct visual observation of this island, satellite measurements show that it is gone. Below is a comparison between the before and after of this major explosive event. On the right, you can see the destruction of the island.
GLOBAL IMPACTS DURING THE ERUPTION
It is rare to see an eruption this large. It was so powerful, that the effects were felt around the world. The explosion was so powerful, and violent that it was heard all the the way to Alaska. This is more than 9.300km (5.800 mi) away. The sound source was confirmed by the USA National Weather Service via instruments.
However, if the sound traveled far enough, the shockwave would travel even further, circling the entire planet. After several hours of travel, pressure measurements across the globe confirmed that the shockwave had passed.
Below is an example of a Japanese weather station that records the pressure rise as the shockwave passes.
The shockwave could also be easily recorded in Europe. Below is a composite of several stations in Slovenia and Central Europe. Despite being more than 17.000km (10.500mi), kilometers apart, the incoming tsunami had a very distinct signature and lasted for a bit longer that the shockwaves from stations close to the volcano.
Anchorage, Alaska is a good example of a clear signal. A tide gauge station recorded a textbook pressure change. The shockwave causes a pressure increase and then drops as it passes. These pressure change detections have been reported from all over the globe, confirming that the shockwave traveled the entire globe.
However, tsunamis can also be created by volcanic underwater explosions. As we mentioned, tsunamis have been caused by volcanic underwater explosions. It didn’t end there. A tsunami wave was also sent across the Pacific Ocean.
A tsunami advisory was issued for the Aleutians and most of the west coast of America. A tsunami wave can be generated if the ocean between Hunga Tonga volcano (in the Pacific) and the West Coast of the United States is sufficient.
The tsunami wave arrived. Alaska recorded waves of up to 1m (3.3ft). California recorded even higher tsunami wave heights, with Port San Luis measuring a height of 131cm (4.33ft). After the tsunami wave passed, the tsunami advisory was cancelled.
New eruptions are not excluded from the Hunga Tonga volcano, including a repeat of yesterday’s (Jan 15) eruption.
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Source: Severe Weather