Scientists warn against a probable volcanic mega-eruption

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai submarine volcano eruptionon January 15, was one of the most explosive volcanic events of the modern era, as confirmed by a new study. Could it happen again? Can a volcano be as deadly or even more so? An article published in ‘Nature‘ , based on research by volcanologists Michael Cassidy (University of Birmingham) and Lara Maní (University of Cambridge), calculates that there are one chance in six of a major volcanic eruption this century and, they warn: “The world is not ready”. that mega eruption could drastically change the world’s climate, accelerated and radical climate change, and in the process collapse civilization.

After a series of smaller events beginning in December 2021, Hunga Tonga erupted on January 15 this year, producing a vertical column that extended more than 50 km above the surface. The heat released by the plume’s hot water and ash constituted the largest source of gravity waves on Earth for up to 12 hours after the explosion. And it is that the eruption produced wave-like gravity waves that, according to satellite observations, spread throughout the Pacific basin.

maximum speeds

The eruption also caused ripples in our atmosphere that reverberated around the planet at least six times and reached speeds very close to the theoretical maximum, making them the fastest ever seen inside our atmosphere. Those waves advanced at the incredible speed of 320 meters per second (1,152 kilometers per hour), as has been verified.

the ashess fell over hundreds of kilometers, affecting infrastructure, agriculture and marine fauna, especially in the fish population. The damage caused amounted to 18.5% of Tonga’s GDP. In fact, undersea cables were affected, cutting off Tonga’s communications with the outside world for several days. Farther away, the blast created a global shock wave and tsunamis that reached the coasts of Japan and North and South America.

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Fortunately, the eruption lasted only about 11 hours. Had it lasted longer, it would have released more ash and gas or affected more densely populated areas of Southeast Asia, or near a high concentration of vital shipping lanes, power grids, or other critical global infrastructure. It would have had repercussions on supply chains, climate and food resources around the world.

Scientists now estimate a one in six chance of a major volcanic eruption this century. which could be 10 to 100 times larger than the Tonga eruption last January.


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