Home Space Tonga Volcanic Eruption Was ‘Biggest’ Atmospheric Explosion in ‘Recorded History’

Tonga Volcanic Eruption Was ‘Biggest’ Atmospheric Explosion in ‘Recorded History’

Image Credit: Himawari-8/JMA/NCEO/@simon_sat

The Tonga volcano erupted in January, and it has been confirmed as the biggest explosion to have ever been recorded in the atmosphere by modern instrumentation.

It was bigger than any of the 20th Century volcanic events or an atom bomb test to have ever been conducted after WWII.

These assessments come in a pair of papers in the journal Science reviewed with all the data.

According to the recent past, it’s likely that only the Krakatoa eruption of 1883 opposed the atmospheric disturbance that was produced.

This catastrophic event in Indonesia has destroyed more than 30,000 lives. Luckily, the climactic eruption of the underwater volcano on 15 January at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in the south Pacific resulted in very few deaths, even though it too created large tsunamis.

Scientists now, fortunately, have access to an extraordinary array of ground-based and spaceborne instruments, including atmospheric pressure sensors, hydrophones, seismometers, and a fleet of satellites that monitor the Earth throughout the entire light spectrum.

The destructive Tonga explosion erupted off several weeks of activity at the seamount. It Produced several types of atmospheric pressure waves that propagated through vast distances.

In the audible range of frequencies, people who are 10,000km away in Alaska have been reported to hear repeated booms.

Scientists, however, are still investigating the generation of nearby field tsunamis that crossed up coastlines in the Tongan archipelago.

Some were crafted by pressure waves from the volcano forcing down on the water surface, but investigations are ongoing to understand if the collapse of part of the volcano has made a significant contribution.