Tonga Volcano Eruption: Submarine volcano erupted with so much force water “shot up into space”
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The magnitude of the eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai, a submerged volcano that erupted in January 2022, had such a large magnitude that it sent water into space, a scientist has confirmed. The volcanic eruption was the largest explosion recorded in the atmosphere by modern instrumentation, far larger than any 20th century volcanic event or nuclear bomb test
Speaking to Sky News Australia, Astrophysicist and Cosmologist Dr Brad Tucker stated the eruption of the Tongan volcano could have unleashed 60 megatonnes of energy. That is the equivalent of 60 million tonnes of TNT being detonated at once, and "hundreds of times more powerful" than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, NASA has suggested.
“Satellite data has shown that when that volcano erupted, so much energy came out of it that [it] actually shot water into space,” Dr Tucker explained to the Sky New Australia presenter. “There was so much energy it actually exited the atmosphere. It shows that luckily, despite the power from the volcano, there wasn’t as much damage that occurred.”
Dr. Tucker explained that it was the first time that scientists were able to measure that water had left Earth. He said: “Usually the water goes up and comes back down, but there was so much power that it does appear that it’s the first measurement made by satellite and ground based sensors that says ‘yes, there was actually water that exited the Earth’s atmosphere.”
The eruption of Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai was the biggest since the 1991 eruption of Mt. Pinatubo in the Philippines and the most powerful since the eruption of Krakatoa in 1883. It led to tsunami warnings across the majority of the South Pacific and Japan, where a number of fishing boats in Kōchi and Mie prefectures capsized or sank.