Following a tsunami advisory on the entire West Coast of the United States Saturday after a massive undersea volcano erupted near the Pacific nation of Tonga, a mind blowing video was released which captured the massive eruption. The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on Saturday sent tsunami waves crashing across the shore in Tonga, and rising water levels were reported on the coastline of Peru and the Pacific Coast.
This series of images captures the first 1 hour of today's #HungaTongaHungaHaapai eruption, as seen by #GOES17's high res VIS channel. Note that "up" in these images is west pic.twitter.com/JcxfTvO0Jc
— Dan Lindsey (@DanLindsey77) January 15, 2022
The waves reported by the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Hawaii were 1.6 feet in Nawillwili, Kauau, and 2.7 feet in Hanalei. According to The National Weather Service there were even reports of boats getting pushed up in docks.
The violent eruption a few hours ago of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano captured by satellites GOES-West and Himawari-8. pic.twitter.com/PzV5v9apF6
— Wonder of Science (@wonderofscience) January 15, 2022
What We Know So Far
The tsunami waves are as a result of the undersea volcano erupting, but as far as the process by which this happens, triggering the waves, is still debated among scientists. A volcanologist and science journalist Robin George Andrews told Al Jazeera that undersea volcanoes like Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai erupt in such an explosive way about once every 1,000 years.
“There was this giant explosion, which scientists think is one in 1,000-year event for this sort of volcano,” he said to the news source. “It’s probably one of the most energetic explosions of the entire 21st century so far,” Andrews said.
According to the source, following the interruption the internet was down in Tonga while friends and family members were not able to get in touched with their loved ones.
As reported by axios.com, the undersea volcanic eruption on Saturday has caused significant damage in Tonga, while the extent of the explosion's damage remains unknown. The report comes via a press briefing Sunday by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. At this time there have been no official reports of deaths or injuries, however shops along the coast have been damaged. A significant cleanup will be needed as the tsunami had a "significant impact" on the capital Nuku'alofa, where "boats and large boulders washed ashore," Arden said.
The story goes on to say ash has contaminated some fresh water sources, and power is slowly being restored to parts of the capital with cell service also starting to work again.
The latest eruption follows an article we covered in 2021, when three Oregon volcanoes made National Geographic’s top 10 most dangerous In America.