Friday, May 27

The island of the Tonga volcano disappears, six years after it was born

This is the story of an island that has only existed for six years. The Hunga Tonga Haapai island, in the Pacific Ocean, which was born precisely from a volcanic eruption that occurred at the end of 2015, has ended up disappearing as a result of the new eruption that has occurred these days, which it has only left some rocks in the middle of the sea.

As the images from the Copernicus Sentinel satellite show, the island of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haapai volcano, which recorded a violent eruption on January 15, with a gigantic mushroom of steam, gas and ash, has practically completely disappeared.

The island, before disappearing Nasa

This area of ​​land in the middle of Polynesia, created by an eruption in December 2015, no longer exists, as can be seen by comparing a Image taken by the European Union’s Sentinel 2 satellite on January 2, with another from Sentinel 1 acquired 12 hours after the large eruption, when the cloud dissipated enough to observe the area from space.

Located about 45 kilometers northwest of the Tongan capital, Nuku’alofa, and nearly two kilometers long, the island emerged between two islets formerly formed by the underwater volcano Hunga.

The cone formed ended up reaching a hundred meters in height. It was a truly spectacular natural event, since the new earth appeared practically overnight. Within a few weeks, the island had acquired the configuration that it would maintain throughout the following years.

This image shows its training process:

Birth of the island in 2015 Copernicus

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And in this other composition its rapid disappearance is observed, after the very strong eruption produced at the beginning of the month:

disappearance of the island Sentinel Copernicus

In the new images, only vestiges of those two initial islands remain. The resulting island consisted mainly of the accumulation of fragmented magmatic rock.

Since the moment it was formed, the island has been under surveillance and monitoring, since it was not supposed to have a very long life. Scientists were not mistaken and, finally, Hunga Tonga-Haapai is now just a memory that only the images taken during its existence bear witness to.

island of Hunga Tonga Agencies

The eruption that began days ago was of such intensity that it was felt even in Alaska, where it caused a wave that reached the Pacific coast, from Japan to the United States. In Peru, it left two deaths due to the waves.

Neighboring countries and international agencies continue to assess the extent of the damage. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said that they are “significant”.

New Zealand and Australia sent reconnaissance planes to assess the damage and made C-130 military transport planes available to drop supplies or land if the runways are deemed operational.

Saturday’s volcanic explosion severely damaged the capital of the Tonga archipelago, Nuku’alofa, covered in ash, and severed an underwater communications cable.

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