On December 20, 2021, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano, located in the Kingdom of Tonga, in the South Pacific, erupted. On January 13, 2022, it erupted again sending ash, steam and gas 20 km high, with a diameter of 260 km , according to local authorities. The second eruption was about seven times more powerful than the first and led to a tsunami that flooded the coasts of the United States to Chile and Japan, and has killed two people in Peru.
Where is Tonga?
Tonga, also known as the Kingdom of Tonga, is a country made up of 171 South Pacific islands ruled by King Tupou VI of Tonga. Many of the islands that are part of Tonga are uninhabited, in fact, only 45 people live on them. The archipelago is characterized by its tropical forests, white sand beaches and coral reefs . The main island is called Tongatapu and the capital of the kingdom is located there: Nukuʻalofa . Approximately two-thirds of the kingdom’s population lives in Tongatapu.
Tonga occupies about 747 square kilometers, being one of the smallest countries in the world. The official languages of the kingdom are Tongan and English. Its economy is based on the export of fish and tourism. In 2018 Tonga suffered the worst storm in sixty years.
The Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai volcano
Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha’apai is a 10 km deep submarine volcano located 65 km north of Nukuʻalofa , the capital. The volcano has a long history of activity, such as the 2009 and 2014-2015 eruptions. Older and more historic are those that occurred in the years 200 and 1000 AD According to reports from the Science Media Center of New Zealand, the inhabitants of the island should be attentive to possible aftershocks since that was what happened in the eruptions of the years 200 and 1000 AD
The eruption of last Saturday has been such that its shock wave has been recorded in places as far away as Alaska and the United States. It is one of the most violent eruptions that have been recorded in the last thirty years in the world.
The volcano expelled a 20 km high and 260 km in diameter plume of smoke that triggered a tsunami with waves of more than 1.2 m that caused significant material damage in much of Tongatapu.
What damage has the tsunami caused?
The tsunami has mainly affected Tongatapu , but has also inundated the coasts of the United States as far as Chile and Japan .
In Peru, at the La Pampilla refinery, “unusual tides” have been recorded, which have caused an oil spill this weekend on beaches in the province of Callao. “The high tides recorded on the Peruvian coast on the afternoon of Saturday 15, as a result of the eruption of a volcano with its epicenter in the Tonga Sea, altered the process of unloading crude oil from the ship ‘Mare Dorium’ to the La Pampilla Refinery, that was being carried out at that time,” the company explained in a statement.
As reported by Europa Press, Australia and New Zealand have announced that they will send planes from their respective Air Forces to investigate the damage caused by the big wave. They will monitor the condition of infrastructure such as roads, ports and supply chains.