Tonga volcanic eruption a rare event

An underwater volcanic eruption in Tonga yesterday prompted tsunami warnings and evacuations in neighbouring countries and caused huge waves on several South Pacific islands.

 Plate tectonics and structural geology expert ProfessorChris Eldersfrom Curtin University says – “Most tsunamis are caused by earthquakes, but can also be volcanic islands collapsing into the sea – the 2018 eruption of Krakatoa and subsequent devastating tsunami for example.

“There is a widely acknowledged risk that large volcanic islands such as Tenerife in the Canary Islands could collapse and send large tsunami waves around the Atlantic, threatening cities such as New York. However, a very powerful underwater explosion such as in Tonga is less common.”

The eruption of the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano on Saturday sent tsunami waves crashing across the shore in Tonga, and rising water levels were reported on the coastline of multiple countries in the Pacific.

According to the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration Group, almost “three-quarters of all volcanic activity on Earth actually occurs underwater”.

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