The Massive Scale Of The Hunga Tonga Volcano Eruption

Hunga Tonga Volcano

Hunga Tonga, formally known as the Hunga Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai, dispersed ash over the area as far away as 40 miles into the the Tongan Capital, Nuku’alofa.

Satellite image Tonga Hunga Volcano
Satellite image of Tonga Hunga Volcano | Credit UN News


Good to have a little perspective and it seems distance always aids in that. So chew on that for, just a moment. 40 miles south of where the eruption took place the capital was littered with ash.

Now this gives you the severity of its enormity.

Now let’s go even deeper with some of the data to help lay out the profundity of this explosion.

Well beyond Tonga the vastness of the explosion was evident from space and satellite images.

The satellite images revealed that volcanic gases, water vapor, meshed in with dirt and rock formed a gigantic plume of gas and debris that roared nearly 20 miles into the atmosphere. Yes, it went 20 miles up into the sky.

Volcanolgists say Hunga’s power and magnitude matched that of Pinatubo, which took place on Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991 and was on record as one of the single largest explosions, next to its predecessor Krakatau in Indonesia in 1883.

I am writing about it not because it had any adverse impact on my life, but it hit really close to home.

The tsunami that erupted after the volcano did pressed across the body mass of the ocean all the way here to the west coast, my backyard.

While I don’t live on the water, but I’m within in very close proximity.

And while this sounds like a, it’s all about me post, it’s not.

It’s a little food for thought, about the atrocities of global warming and how our planet reacts to it.


Let’s consider some more really fascinating data points – science, yep, you bet ya, about the Tonga Volcano

  • The Largest Eruption On Planet Earth In Thirty Years
  • this one will not have a cooling effect on the planet like some previous eruptions have had
  • some short term effects on weather as a result of the Hunga eruption
  • even minor disruptions in radio transmissions – absolutely fascinating – including those used by gps, i.e. global positioning systems
  • there was so much ash from the volcano it forced nearby airports to shut down
  • the impact was so enormous underwater that it severed a lot of the undersea telecommunications systems
  • lasted 10 minutes total
  • 400,000 tons of sulfur dioxide were measured in the atmosphere since the eruption
  • it’s 500 meters underwater
  • when super hot molten rock or magma mix with sea water it becomes steam which expands the explosion
  • the shock wave according to Satellite readings went beyond the stratosphere as high as 60 miles up
  • it propagated at a speed of more than 600 miles an hour around the world

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Sue Dhillon is an Indian American writer, journalist, and trainer.

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