According to scientists, the eruption of Tonga’s Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano was the greatest recorded by experts since 1883.
According to the results published in Science, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption, which has been blamed for just six deaths, was equivalent in magnitude to the Krakatoa eruption in Indonesia in 1883.
According to the report, the Tonga explosion caused pressure waves known as Lamb waves that traveled horizontally over the Earth’s surface for more than six days.
Lamb waves are often connected with massive air events such as volcano eruptions and nuclear testing.
The Tonga volcanic explosion created Lamb waves comparable to the Krakatoa eruption, killing over 30,000 people.
According to scientists, nuclear explosions that produced Lamb waves, such as the greatest atomic test in the USSR in 1961, had a similar amplitude but persisted for a shorter time than huge volcanic eruptions like the one in Tonga.
This is because volcanic explosions are significantly more intricate and less focused than nuclear ones.
The January eruption also created audible noises that could be heard up to 10,000 kilometers distant in Alaska and the infrared sound that resonated across the world.
According to Professor Corentin Caudron, co-author of the study, researchers employed more than 3,000 sensors and devices throughout the world, typically used to detect earthquakes and tsunamis, to arrive at their conclusions.
“Essentially, what we did was compare what we retrieved in terms of information about all these waves that traveled throughout the world, [and] compare that eruption with others that occurred in the past,” Professor Caudron explained.
He said that even though the sensors in 1883 had a poorer resolution than those used today, they detected the same thing.
“It’s probably one of the first times we can see a Lamb wave associated with a volcanic explosion, and Krakatoa also did the same thing … it’s the first time we can see those Lamb waves in a very detailed way.”
Heather Handley, an adjunct associate professor at the University of Melbourne, said the report corroborated what she had seen following the eruption.
Dr. Handley stated that the Tonga explosion demonstrated the importance of the world community working together to prepare for a possibly catastrophic volcanic eruption.
“[Another eruption] is on the way. The world will have to be prepared to work together to make sure that when that … size of an eruption occurs, we’re ready and best prepared because it could affect global food supply, network chains, communication systems,” Dr. Handley said.
The fallout from the Tonga eruption and tsunami continues
The eruption on January 15 unleashed a tsunami that wrecked major portions of Tonga and coated the nation in volcanic ash.
The Pacific Island nation was cut off from the rest of the world for more than a month after the eruption and tsunami severed the country’s only underwater internet connection, preventing residents on the other side of the planet from contacting relatives and friends in Tonga.
Tsunami waves were detected across the Pacific, causing moored vessels in New Zealand to be damaged, and an oil leak in Peru declared an environmental emergency.
According to the World Bank, the damage bill from the tragedy would cost Tonga more than $125 million, or around 20% of its GDP.
The tsunami damaged or destroyed 600 structures in Tonga, half of which were residences, and an estimated 1,525 people were displaced.
The tsunami caused the biggest havoc to the country’s tourism industry by damaging resorts and natural attractions, while volcanic ash severely devastated the agricultural sector.