May 20, 2022 5:26 pm

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai enter eruption

Francis Martin Leon 4 min
Sequence of the eruption of the volcano cited in the text on January 15, 2022

Damage assessments are still ongoing, but preliminary reports indicate that communities in the island nation of Tonga have suffered severe ash damage volcanic and a tsunami caused by the eruption.

The volcano had erupted sporadically several times since 2009. The most recent burst of activity began in late December 2021, with intermittent ejections of ash, steam and tephra. An unusually large explosion rocked the volcano on January 13, 2022, but it was an even bigger explosion on January 15 that produced a atmospheric shock wave and a tsunami that went around the world.

Several Earth observation satellites collected data during and after the eruption. Scientists affiliated with NASA’s Disasters program now collect images and data and share them with colleagues around the world, including disaster response agencies.

The Advanced Baseline Imager at Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite NOAA GOES-17 (GOES-17) captured the natural-color images for the above animation between 5 and 8 pm local time (04:00 to 07:00 universal time) on January 15. (NASA builds and launches the GOES series of satellites for NOAA.)

The eruption produced what volcanologists call an umbrella cloud, Y shock waves crescent-shaped waves rippled through the plume as it expanded up and out over the South Pacific.

Height reached by the ashes of the volcano as of January 16, 2022

The second image, based on data collected on January 16 by the mission Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), shows ash and gas from the eruption rising to an altitude of 31 kilometers. CALIPSO is a joint mission of NASA and the National Center for Space Studies (CNES) of France.

The trio of natural-color images below show ash, pumice, and sediment discoloring the water around the eruption site. The images were acquired by the MODIS sensor on NASA’s Aqua satellite.

Natural-color images below show ash, pumice, and sediment discoloring the water around the eruption site.

Preliminary images from commercial satellites and European radar cameras suggest that very little of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is still above the waterline. The volcanic island first came out of the water in December 2014.

Images of NASA Earth Observatory by Joshua Stevens and Lauren Dauphin , using CALIPSO data from NASA/CNES, MODIS and VIIRS data from NASA EOSDIS LANCE and GIBS/Worldview and Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership , and GOES imagery courtesy of NOAA and National Environmental Satellite Service, Data and Information (NESDIS). Short story by Adam Voiland.

NASA Earth Observatory

This entry was published in News on 19 Jan 2022 by Francisco Martín León

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