The eruption of the Tonga Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano seen from space

On January 15, 2022 at 5:10 a.m. (Italian time) on big eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano which is located inTonga Archipelago. The news spread around the world due to the exceptional nature of the event which, although not the largest eruptive event of all time, caused quite a bit of damage. Due to the creation of tsunami, due to the sudden movement of a large amount of equipment, people were killed even thousands of kilometers away. For example, the death of two women in Peru who were on the beach when the wave hit. In Chile, however, the height of the wave reached 1.74 meters.

volcano gif hunga tonga

The situation near the explosion is still being defined due to the great difficulties in reaching the various islands of the archipelago and the reduced ability to communicate (by technological means) with other nations. What is clear is that the nearest islands have been covered with a layer of volcanic ash which made them almost unrecognizable from space. From space, thanks to the satellites images have arrived for the acquisition of images of the Earth and the International Space Station “suggestive” of the eruption of Tonga Hunga Volcano Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai.

The eruption of the Tonga Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano from space

Estimating the potency of these types of events is complicated and estimates will be refined over the weeks. To give an idea of ​​the impact of the eruption James Garvin (NASA scientist) he stated during an interview that “we estimated it at around 10 megatons of TNT equivalent”. That’s far more than the two nuclear bombs dropped on Japan during World War II. Instead, it is about one-fifth of the Tsar Bomb set off by the Soviet Union for post-war testing.

shock wave hunga tonga

The shock wave generated by the explosion of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai

The effects ofTonga volcano eruption however, they were noticeable all over the world (from the instruments). L’pressure wave he managed to circumnavigate the Earth twice. The variations were also detectable by barometers in Italy (at that distance it was too faint to be felt by people). In the video below, recorded by the Gemini Observatory cameras on Maunakea, it is possible to see the effect recorded in the Hawaiian Islands which are about 5000 km away. In particular, you notice moving light clouds and what appears to be a slight ripple in the moving air.

Fortunately theIsle has been uninhabited. It was also due to the instability of the conformation caused by the presence of the volcano which had erupted several times since 2009, but never with this violence. The umbrella cloud had a diameter of 500 km and obscures the Sun for several kilometers nearby.

The ash rose and was also visible to the astronauts who are on board international space station who captured some snaps. According to previous studies, even in the past, the volcano could have generated large explosive eruptions of which traces remain. Daniel Slayback (NASA scientist who visited the area in 2019) said about it “I just didn’t expect to see one so soon. It was a beautiful little island with a thriving ecosystem of grasses, tropical birds and other wildlife”. Obviously, the priority will now be to help the populations living in the area and to estimate the damage. Over the next few months, however, the resulting data and studies may shed new light on the precise dynamics of the event to enable better prevention and risk reduction for people in the future.

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