Incredible satellite video of volcanic eruption on Tongan island

Originally published at: Incredible satellite video of volcanic eruption on Tongan island | Boing Boing


Me: Wow, that was a big plume.
Scott Manley: Allow me to explain, succinctly, nearly every possible thing there is to know about it.


Holy Mackerell!



The eruption was truly awesome in the original sense of the word. And it was just underwater waiting this whole time. I wonder if we had any inkling it was there?


Yes. Scientists have been watching it for years. The eruption actually began in December:

But from the time the island was formed a few years ago, it seems like it was only a matter of time.


Let’s hope people over there are OK. They did have warning, but I’m not sure how much help that is with the size of that explosion.


The national weather service has confirmed that it was heard over most of Alaska over 10,000 km away. The pressure wave was easily observed about 4:15 a.m. Saturday morning here in Southern California on even backyard weather stations.

The first geological reconnaissance report that I saw after the islands were formed back in 2015 mentioned that the volcano seemed to generate very large eruptions, the last one about 1,000 years ago, but what is frightening is that this current explosion really didn’t have much warning before it.


Lets hope people in Tonga are okay.
That shockwave was spectacular and horrifying.


I wish we had some news. There are charts floating around about their internet usage basically going down to nil. Now maybe that just means the power and internet is down. But others fear it is a Pompeii type situation.


Yes, this is a regularly-erupting volcano with new eruptions occurring around the rim of a large submarine caldera. The most recent series of eruptions began in 2009 with large submarine (Surtseyan) eruptions. It resumed activity in 2014 when it constructed a new island of ash and cinder which was rapidly converted to pelagonite by water and kept it from being eroded.

The eruption this week (which with apologies to Mr Manley is far from the largest seen from space) appears to have involved a collapse of part of the submarine structure which would have depressurised the magma and exposed it to water causing a detonation. This is similar - though MUCH smaller than - the climax of the 1883 Krakatau eruption.


There are a couple of volcanic errors in the Scott Manley video - but hey, it’s not his specialism and he did a great job of putting it together so quickly.

It isn’t the largest eruption observed from space - Pinatubo was AT LEAST ten times (and possibly 100 times) larger. Other eruptions such as 2011’s Puyehue-Cordón Caulle were again a magnitude larger than this week’s eruption. This might be the single largest distinct explosion spotted from orbit.

And Tambora wasn’t the last volcanic winter. There were a series of cold winters following Krakatau’s 1883 climax (although this took place during a short-lived global downturn in temperatures so it is hard to disentangle the volcano’s contribution). There were also short-lived impacts after Santa Maria in 1902; Novarupta (sometimes called Katmai) in 1912 and Agung 1963. Most recently 1991’s enormous eruption at Pinatubo caused a volcanic winter across most of the globe.

Hunga Tonga might have pushed its eruption column into the stratosphere (I’m seeing wildly divergent values), and given its position at low latitudes it does offer the potential to put an aerosol haze across most of the globe. But we’ll need to know more about the volume erupted, the altitude of the plume and the amount of sulfur emitted before that can be estimated.


Blimey! Big Ba-da-boom! All the best to the folk with a front row seat to this event.

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This was by far the best explanation out there. And slapped together only a day after the event too!

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At least one person has died

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They’ve basically lost all internet

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