Scientists explored the Tonga volcano and were surprised by its condition

(ORDO NEWS) — The underwater volcano Tonga, which produced a massive eruption earlier this year, is fully preserved, New Zealand scientists said.

The eruption in January was the largest explosion ever recorded by modern sensors. It was so powerful that the force lifted the cloud to a height of 16,500 km and caused a small tsunami in the Mediterranean Sea.

However, recent studies have shown that the structurally underwater volcano in Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Haapai has not changed much.

Experts from New Zealand’s National Institute of Water and Atmosphere (NIWA) said the new results were “surprising” and “unexpected”.

Scientists explored the Tonga volcano and were surprised by its condition 2
3D map of the underwater volcano Khunga, built from multipath data

NIWA scientists aboard the research ship mapped the shape after the eruption of Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai and the surrounding seabed.

Even though the volcano appeared untouched, the seafloor showed some dramatic effects from the eruption, the researchers said.

“There is fine sandy mud and deep ash ripples up to 50 kilometers from the volcano, with gouged valleys and huge piles of sediment.”

In addition to hydroacoustic imaging, the researchers also studied the ecosystem around the volcano.

The team not only mapped changes to the seafloor, but also studied how it affected living beings in the surrounding abyss. The initial release of minerals in the ash led to a boom in microalgae that began to feed the entire ecosystem.

Despite the fact that the edges of the volcano are now devoid of biological life, scientists have found that just 15 km from them, fish and mussels live safely.

The research team also reported that there is still a lot of ash in the water, and areas of low oxygen are emerging around the volcano.

The long-term effects for this area are unknown. Scientists hope that the collected data and materials will bring new understanding of underwater volcanic eruptions to the Kingdom of Tonga and many other countries.

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