Perhaps that is why the volcanic eruption in Tonga was so powerful

(ORDO NEWS) — The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai volcano in January 2022 was very strong. The volcano erupted directly into the ocean and caused a tsunami and powerful evaporation that affected the atmosphere.

The eruption caused a tsunami in the Caribbean on the other side of the world.

The volcano ejected a swirling plume of gas, dust and ash that flew 58 kilometers into the sky. Atmospheric waves from it circled the globe several times, and this eruption caused a tsunami in the Caribbean on the other side of the world.

A recently published study now suggests why the scale of this volcanic explosion was so huge: a smaller eruption the day before prepared the volcano for a larger explosion, plunging its main vent below the ocean’s surface.

This meant that the molten rock was erupting directly into the sea water, vaporizing it along the way and amplifying the eruption. The researchers speculate that evaporating seawater caused the lava to break into tiny pieces of ash.

Combined with ice crystals in the upper atmosphere, the swirling cloud of material created static charges that led to a dramatic outcome and even sparked lightning. The frenzied electrical activity was so intense that it actually represented 80 percent of the lightning strikes to Earth during the busiest hour.

How was the study

“We were really just trying to figure out what happened,” says volcanologist Melissa Scruggs of the University of California, Santa Barbara. “So we collected all the information we could, everything that was available during the first few weeks.”

The researchers found that the first two hours of the eruption were particularly strong, beginning at 5:02 pm local time. After about 12 hours, the activity faded. According to researchers, this is the largest eruption that mankind has seen since the 1991 explosion on Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines.

Perhaps that is why the volcanic eruption in Tonga was so powerful 2

The shockwaves passing through the Pacific Ocean caused many tsunamis around the world, often arriving earlier than expected. The fact is that the models used to build them were based on earthquake activity, and not on volcanic eruptions.

This is a warning about how dangerous underwater volcanoes can be with the addition of sea water. Many of them remain uncontrollable – they are in remote places, out of the view of satellites – but the damage they can cause can be catastrophic, as the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai eruption shows.

What is this volcano?

“The volume of the eruption didn’t really matter,” says geologist Frank Spera of the University of California, Santa Barbara . “What was special was how the energy of the eruption connected with the atmosphere and the oceans: a lot of energy went into the movement of air and water on a global scale.”

By the time things calmed down again, the islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Haapa were all but destroyed. They only appeared in 2015, after another major eruption from the same volcano made them the highest points in its crater.

Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai is what is known as a stratovolcano. That is, it is a cone-shaped variety that usually causes relatively moderate volcanic activity. It is one of a number of volcanoes fed by magma as a result of tectonic activity.

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