Eruption of Underwater Volcano in Tonga captured by Meteorological Satellites

On the 13th and 15th of January 2022 the underwater volcano on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’pai, located in the South Pacific Kingdom of Tonga erupted. The eruption on the 15th of January 2022 was seven times more powerful than the first eruption of the volcano, which took place on the 20th of December 2021. Additionally, it led to a tidal gauge, resulting in a tsunami wave that impacted countries in the Pacific Ocean, from the Kingdom of Tonga, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, up to Peru, among others, on the other side of the Pacific.

The volcanic eruption was captured by the GOES-West Earth-observing satellite operated by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), as well as by the Himawari-8 satellite, operated by the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), resulting in spectacular images, revealing the large extent of this event.

This is an example of the capacity of geostationary satellites and the benefit of meteorological satellites tracking large events. Particularly in the case of volcanic eruptions and potentially triggered tsunami events, this can be an efficient integral part of early warning systems. Just one more example: Knowing where volcanic plumes are located and where they move to can be of great assistance, especially for aviation navigation.

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NOAA’s GOES West satellite captured another explosive eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano. (Image Credit: NOAA)
NOAA’s GOES West satellite captured eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano. (Image Credit: NOAA)