Rock & Gem
How Water Powered the “Mega-Eruption” of Tonga
e Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption event of January 15, 2022, in the Pacic Ocean has been described as “the largest atmospheric explosion in recorded history.” Per the journal Nature, researchers from two independent teams now say water powered this super-explosive event.
ese research teams believe the center of the volcano collapsed and created a caldera. When it did, a huge amount of magma suddenly encountered and reacted with water. When this happened, 1,110° magma contacted 20° water at rather shallow levels with catastrophic results!
While ash shot into the stratosphere, shock waves circled the globe and high ocean waves were recorded as far away as the French Mediterranean. Said Luis Millán (NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California), “We haven’t seen anything like this in the entire satellite era.” It is expected that the ash plumb will remain in the atmosphere and a¡ect the global climate for at least another year. Scientists are hoping lessons learned from the Tonga eruption may help in forecasting future catastrophic eruptions.