UPDATE: ANOTHER MASSIVE ERUPION TRIGGERS TSUNAMI IN TONGA ON JANUARY 14-15, 2022. HERE SOME TERRIFYING VIDEOS AND IMAGES.
An intense powerful explosion took place from the volcano at around 20:30 local time today as reported Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Wellington.
A spectacular ash plume rose several kilometers above the summit and given the submarine volcano’s summit elevation (149 m), the eruption sent a tall ash cloud up to 15 km (50,000 ft) altitude.
Sentinel-5 and TROPOMI satellite-based measurements of SO2 concentrations in the atmosphere detected about 9 kilotons extended to the north of the volcano.
The loud explosion at the uninhabited island was heard about 170 km away from nearby islands as reported in social media.
From available satellite images and pictures, the presence of water is likely causing significant explosive interaction (phreatomagmatic activity) of water and magma. The eruption is continuing today!
— Prof. Simon Carn (@simoncarn) December 21, 2021
Air New Zealand cancelled its flight from Auckland to Tonga late this morning due to concern over volcanic ash clouds close to Tongatapu, following a high level eruption at Hunga Tonga- Hunga Ha’apai detected over the last two days.
Tonga’s head geologist Taaniela Kula, confirmed this afternoon that an ash eruption started at about 9:35am yesterday, Monday, 20 Dec., and continued to 2:00am today from Hunga Ha’apai, located about 65km from Nuku’alofa.
Yesterday’s eruption of the Tonga islands volcano Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai as captured by GOES-17.
Rx via @eumetsat on @Eutelsat_SA 10A (10° E) in Thessaloniki, ??.
– 125 cm Offset dish with Universal LNB
– TBS 5927 USB DVB-S2 Sat-TV-Box
– EUMETCastView / Win7 movie maker pic.twitter.com/ETiPMeIzYL
— Merkouris SV2HWM (@SV2HWM) December 20, 2021
“At 9:40am the eruption had reached 6km and continued to rise to 16km.
“The ash eruption ceased at about 2:00am last night, and gaseous emissions have continued intermittently,” he told Matangi Tonga.
“We issued monitoring advice to civil aviation and stake holders on what we were observing from the satellite and then from there the airport towers decide,” he said.
The 2021 eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano as seen in Himawari-8 Satellite imageries (via NICT website)。The timestamps are in GMT+9. pic.twitter.com/sWCNEu4qUA
— F. IKGM?臨時軽石対応モード減速中??⏳ (@geoign) December 20, 2021
Taaniela said they were continuing to see cloud from the eruption this morning but no ash was detected. His initial analysis was based on the quality of images they were receiving from Japan’s Himawari 8 satellite.
“NASA I think pinpointed that it is from the 2009 vents on the flanks of Hunga Ha’apai, the western one, and we are looking for a clear image of that.”
He said the eruption would come from the magma just beneath the vent.
In news, a new eruption is now ongoing at the (long named) Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai Volcano! It has not erupted since 2015 and could either expand one of the existing islands or form a new island! #tonga #volcano #geology #news #eruption #volcanoes pic.twitter.com/yHOFBoJgOL
— GeologyHub (@HubGeology) December 20, 2021
Shane Egan, at the Blue Banana Beach House, at Kanokupolu Beach said this afternoon he could see the eruption of steam was continuing
“The clouds have now merged into the vapour trail but looking through the binoculars the eruptions are still very dramatic. The steam is shooting in wide columns rather than rising in puffs,” he said.
Aviation code orange
Meanwhile, the Volcanic Ash Advisory Center (VAAC) Wellington reported at 8:09pm yesterday, 20 Dec., that a high level eruption was observed on satellite imagery at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, and issued an aviation colour code orange.
This means the volcano is exhibiting heightened unrest with increased likelihood of eruption or, volcanic eruption is underway with no or minor ash emission. The cloud from the eruption moved away from Tongatapu and toward Ha’apai and Vava’u.
Si vous vouliez voir une éruption volcanique en direct, c’est par là ?
— Rêves d’Espace (@RevesdEspace) December 21, 2021
This morning, from 10:10am a cloud plume at the same area drifting toward Ha’apai, was visible on the Himawari 8 satellite imagery, shortly before the flight was cancelled.
Kingdom Travel, the agent for Air New Zealand in Tonga, confirmed that the cancellation of flight NZ1172 from Auckland was due to the volcanic cash eruption in Tonga. “So at this stage the airline is looking at a recovery flight for the future but nothing is confirmed,” said the agent.
Brian Meikle in Vava’u shared a satellite view at 4:10pm 20 Dec., and another taken by Kimberlyn Hoyla on the domestic flight from Tongatapu to Vava’u yesterday.
“The eruption was so violent and loud that several people here in Vava’u heard them,” he said. Vava’u is located 261 km to the north east of Hunga Tonga.
People in Neiafu, Vava’u reporting loud explosions from volcano 170 km south.
No word from Ha’apai which is much closer & satellites indicate is under volcanic cloud.
Tongatapu seems upwind & thus is getting views but no effects pic.twitter.com/9I9sHGai0r
— Michael Field (@MichaelFieldNZ) December 20, 2021
Steve Pond in East Grinstead, UK, shared a breathtaking view of the eruption taken by Korea’s GeoKompsat weather satellite, reporting a volcanic cloud almost 16km high, at around 20:30 UK time 19 Dec. (9:30am Monday).
Tonga’s Monday eruption – as seen from a Tongatapu beach pic.twitter.com/ndUQn8a0EA
— Michael Field (@MichaelFieldNZ) December 20, 2021
The cancellation of the flight this morning means that the funeral programme for Tonga’s Deputy Prime Minister the late Hon. Lord Ma’afu is postponed. He was Tonga’s Minister of Lands. Flight NZ1172 was scheduled to arrive in Tonga at 12:30pm with the funeral cortege received by Queen Nanasipau’u and VIPs.
Taaniela Kula, the Deputy Director Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources, said that this morning staff of the ministry had been at the airport waiting for the funeral cortege to arrive, when the cancellation was announced. [Matangi Tonga, News Hub, Volcano Discovery]
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