A new analysis led by Oxford University researchers has shown the devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022 created the tallest volcanic plume ever recorded.
A new analysis led by Oxford University researchers has shown the devastating Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai eruption in January 2022 created the tallest volcanic plume ever recorded. The research has been published in the journal Science.
At 57km high (35 miles), the ash cloud generated by the eruption is also the first to have been observed in the mesosphere, a layer of the atmosphere more commonly associated with shooting stars. The previous record-holder, the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, caused a plume was recorded as 40km high, although accurate satellite images, such as those taken over Tonga, were not available at the time.top
The Tonga eruption took place under the sea, around 65km from the country’s main island, causing tsunamis felt as far away as Russia, the United States, and Chile. The waves claimed six lives, including two people in Peru, 10,000km away.
‘It’s the first time we’ve ever recorded a volcanic plume reaching the mesosphere. Krakatau in the 1800s might have done as well, but we didn’t see that in enough detail to confirm,’ said Dr Simon Proud, a National Centre for Earth Observation senior scientist at the University of Oxford and the Science and Technology Facilities Council’s RAL Space facility.
Read more at University of Oxford
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