New York: Satellite imagery captured the moment an underwater volcano erupted off the coast of Tonga on Saturday, Jan. 15, triggering a tsunami warning for several South Pacific island nations. The eruption caused a 1.2-metre tsunami, Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology said.
The blast of the Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano created a plume of ash, steam and gas mushrooming above the Pacific Ocean, with a quickly expanding shockwave visible from orbit. Japan’s Himawari-8 weather satellite recorded this dramatic video:
— Seán Doran (@_TheSeaning) January 15, 2022
Each frame in this video is less than 10 minutes long, so the plume expanded quickly. Some experts estimated the shockwave expanded at an amazing 800 – 950 kph (500-600 mph.)
NASA’s GOES-17 satellite also captured this view:
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
Left: the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano on Friday, January 7, 2022.
Right: the volcano on Friday, January 14, 2022.
The second image is from *before* the latest, massive eruption.
— Paul Byrne (@ThePlanetaryGuy) January 15, 2022
Wow this is terrifying, the type of sonic boom you hope you never hear. That is a staggering pressure spike. [NSFW language]
Hoping everyone in the vicinity of the Tonga volcanic eruption is staying safe
— Chris Combs (@DrChrisCombs) January 15, 2022
Truly incredible imagery from the Himawari meso sector of multiple shockwaves from a volcanic eruption on Tonga propagating through what was recently subtropical storm Cody. My back of the napkin math estimates put the shockwave speed somewhere in the vicinity of 500-600 mph. pic.twitter.com/lDyNXFpLbE
— Isaac Schluesche (@SlushyWx) January 15, 2022