"An eruption-driven tsunami towered 20m high when it smashed into Tonga one
year ago today – and came shortly after smaller waves that led locals to flee
to safety just in time, Kiwi scientists report.
The gargantuan eruption of the underwater Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano
created the planet’s largest explosion in 140 years, sending the equivalent of
58,000 swimming pools of water into the atmosphere.
It also triggered a rare pressure shockwave that travelled the globe multiple
times and a cascade of lingering effects that may see Earth cross the global
warming landmark of 1.5C sooner than expected.
Now, in a just-published study, New Zealand researchers have shed fresh light
on the wall of water it sent into Tonga’s home islands soon after the January
15, 2022 blow.
Travelling more than 100km from the eruption site at a speed of at least 500
km/h, the tsunami knocked out communications and destroyed villages and resorts
on Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, while devastating parts of the ‘Eua and
several islands in the southern Ha’apai island group.
Remarkably, just a handful of people were killed in the disaster, as most of
the population had just enough warning, foresight and preparedness to evacuate
to higher ground.
In the aftermath, officials estimated that waves which struck the west coasts
of the Tongatapu, ʻEua and Haʻapai islands reached 15m – or the height of a
But researchers suspected it could have been even higher."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics