It is now clear that the damage to the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga is greater than first thought. The tsunamis reached heights of up to 120 cm and caused destruction on the coasts. Most of the islands are covered in volcanic ash and cut off from communication. Saturday’s eruption was also much stronger than initial reports indicated. Volcanic ash was detected at 39 km altitude. The blast wave from the explosion passed around the Earth 4 times.
What made the eruption so strong?
Before the big eruption on Saturday, there were two moderate eruptions and several small ones. The series began on December 20. These eruptions were Surtseyan eruptions in which water already had a hand. Then, in the large eruption, a large amount of seawater probably entered the volcano’s conveyor system and explosively vaporized. Another possibility is that an injection of fresh melt into the magma body occurred, resulting in a reaction between two different magmas. The blast wave from the explosion circled the globe 4 times, causing gravitational shock waves that reached almost into space.