Tonga volcano dwarfed biggest nuclear blasts ever seen, monitor says
NPR reported this morning (January 21, 2022) that Tonga volcano – which erupted a week ago Saturday (January 15, 2022) – dwarfed:
… the largest nuclear detonations ever conducted, according to a global group that monitors for atomic testing. The shockwave from the blast was so powerful that it was detected as far away as Antarctica, says Ronan Le Bras, a geophysicist with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in Vienna, Austria, which oversees an international network of remote monitoring stations.
In total, 52 detectors around planet Earth heard the low-frequency boom from the explosion as it travelled through the atmosphere. It was the loudest event the network had detected in more than 20 years of operation, according to Le Bras.
NPR quoted Le Bras as saying:
Every single station picked it up. It’s the biggest thing that we’ve ever seen.
And Le Bras also added that, although the eruption rivaled a nuclear explosion, it wasn’t a nuclear explosion. It was a volcano. Radioactive fallout, the telltale sign of a true nuclear explosion, was not detected at any station, he said.
Tonga volcano was felt around the globe
The incredible power of the eruption of the Tonga volcano on January 15 reverberated around the world. Satellites in space captured the action even before the eruption started, showing the island sinking and then later the mushroom cloud and pressure waves expanding outward. Approximately 200,000 lightning events took place near Tonga in the first hour of the eruption. People as far away as Australia and across the ocean in Alaska and Canada heard the explosion. Barometers around the world, such as this one in Switzerland, recorded the pressure wave from the South Pacific explosion. And tsunami waves affected shores all the way to the West Coast of the United States.
— John Garver (@Geo_Garver) January 15, 2022
It was heard in Alaska
Multiple reports of #HungaTonga volcanic explosion(s) being heard this morning…in Alaska.
Distance from Hunga Tonga to Anchorage is 5824 statute miles (9373 km).
From NWS Anchorage Facebook feed… pic.twitter.com/ZYtjoG6sWH
— Roger Edwards (@SkyPixWeather) January 15, 2022
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption was heard here in Alaska starting around 3:30 a.m. – 6,000 miles from the volcano! Infrasound measurements from the @alaska_avo confirm that it was indeed coincident with the volcanic pressure wave. Special thanks to Dr. David Fee. pic.twitter.com/Wp4tnwiaud
— NWS Alaska Region (@NWSAlaska) January 15, 2022
The pressure wave from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption arrived here in Anchorage at 3:30 a.m. AKST. This is exactly 7 hours after the eruption. The volcano is 5,820 miles away (9,360 km). That means it travelled at 830 mph (1,340 kmh). pic.twitter.com/R3rgzAbo6r
— Brian Brettschneider (@Climatologist49) January 15, 2022
Tsunami waves in Oregon and California
NEAR LINCOLN CITY OREGON-Tsunami waves arriving this morning.. Stay off beaches! The first wave typically isn't the most dangerous.
— KEZI 9 NEWS (@KEZI9) January 15, 2022
Tsunami – Timelapse taken by Ventura Isle Marina, Safe Harbor Marina from approximately 8:00 am until 10:00 am #tsunami @NWSLosAngeles @nws #ventura #california #skywarn #wavetalkers pic.twitter.com/MbG9QKtYgk
— Wave Talkers (@wavetalkers) January 15, 2022
Here’s the Monterey, CA tidal gauge clearly showing 2’+ tsunami pulse from the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption in Tonga. Red line is observed water level, blue is predicted tide. Subtracting the two gives us tsunami depth/height. pic.twitter.com/AqIzHenQPf
— Ryan Hollister (@phaneritic) January 15, 2022
Pressure wave crosses the US and globe
Check out the atmospheric pressure waves from the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano, captured visually in the cloud cam videos from Gemini North, one half of the #GeminiObs, a Program of NSF's @NOIRLabAstro.
— Gemini Observatory (@GeminiObs) January 19, 2022
Fascinating depiction of the pressure wave associated with the Tonga eruption as it moved across the US today.
RT @akrherz: 15 minute pressure altimeter change via ASOS NWS/MADIS 5 minute interval data. Shows the shockwave from the #Tongaeruption. pic.twitter.com/qdArMC008Y
— NWS Milwaukee (@NWSMilwaukee) January 15, 2022
Using a difference overlay, I can accentuate that shockwave as it traverses the entire globe. The antipode of Tonga is over Northern Africa. #tonga #HungaTongaHungaHaapai @NWS @USGSVolcanoes pic.twitter.com/BNS0DsfLrm
— science.out.there (@ScienceOutThere) January 15, 2022
The Tonga volcano eruption from space
— Chris Hadfield (@Cmdr_Hadfield) January 15, 2022
— Kaylan Patel (@WxPatel) January 15, 2022
Dramatic changes in Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai captured by @planet from mid-Nov until this morning—only a couple of hours before the most recent eruption.#TongaVolcano #Tonga #TongaEruption pic.twitter.com/fATanmdIg8
— Dr. Tanya Harrison (@tanyaofmars) January 15, 2022
Fascinating to see the different perspectives. pic.twitter.com/aB02QaayWx
— Simon Proud (@simon_sat) January 15, 2022
Lingering effects from the eruption
More than 5 days after the volcanic eruption in #Tonga, the atmospheric pressure wave is still circling the planet. This morning, the wave front crossed #Switzerland for the fourth time. The pressure signal is getting weaker, but it is still detectable in the MeteoSwiss network. pic.twitter.com/eMke6nVujQ
— Matthias Sänger (@myweather_ch) January 20, 2022
Ash from Saturday’s underwater volcanic eruption in the remote Pacific nation of Tonga made its way thousands of feet into the atmosphere & was visible from @Space_Station. During a pass over New Zealand on Sunday, Kayla Barron opened the window & saw the effects of the eruption. pic.twitter.com/6DWgSKVGr6
— NASA Astronauts (@NASA_Astronauts) January 19, 2022
An oil spill off Peru, stemming from the Tonga volcano eruption, is the country's "worst ecological disaster," officials say.
— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) January 20, 2022
Nuku’alofa, the “city” of Tonga covered in volcanic ash. I’m speechless. May it return to its glory soon. ????? #Tonga
Thank you Netta Lufe for these photos. pic.twitter.com/p03dHjhdVV
— Blake Smith-Tatafu (@BlaykeTatafu) January 19, 2022
Bottom line: The Tonga volcano explosion was felt around the world. Tsunamis from the January 15, 2022, event affected the shores of places as far away as Oregon, while the atmospheric pressure wave moved across the globe.