Wednesday, 6 July, 2022

Explosive Tonga volcano 'surprisingly intact'

Explosive Tonga volcano 'surprisingly intact'

The Tonga underwater volcano that produced a spectacular eruption in January remains astonishingly intact.

A New Zealand-led team has just finished mapping the flanks of the seamount, which many people thought might have been torn apart in the ferocity of the event.

But structurally, Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai hasn't changed that much.

The Tonga eruption produced the biggest atmospheric explosion recorded on Earth in more than a century.

It generated tsunamis across the Pacific and in other ocean basins around the world. It even lifted the clouds over the UK, 16,500km away. Mercifully, only a handful of people lost their lives in the kingdom of Tonga.

New Zealand's National Institute for Water and Atmospheric (NIWA) Research has now managed to get in close with a ship to map the post-eruption shape of Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha'apai (HTHH) and of the surrounding seafloor.

Although there's clearly been a lot of ash deposition and movement of sediment, the volcano continues to stand tall.

The expedition leader, NIWA marine geologist Kevin Mackay, said he was taken aback by what he'd seen in the Research Vessel (RV) Tangaroa's sonar data.