The eruption of the underwater volcano near Tonga has caused the highest volcanic column of dust and gases recorded to date, reported DPA, quoted by BTA. The Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Haapai underwater volcano, 65 km north of the capital Nuku’alofa, erupted in January, spewing a record amount of gases and dust into the atmosphere.
According to new research from the University of Oxford, published Friday in the journal Science, the volcanic plume rose to a height 57 km. The substances contained in the cloud have penetrated through the stratosphere and entered the mesosphere. It is about 50 km above the earth’s surface.
According to NASA, space begins just 20 kilometers above the reach of the volcanic cloud.
The amount of gas, dust and ash ejected was significantly higher than the previous record set in 1991, when the Pinatubo volcano in the Philippines spewed a cloud 40 km high. In 1982, the eruption of the El Chichon volcano in Mexico sent matter 31 km high.
According to researcher Simon Proud, these are extraordinary results. Until now, scientists have not witnessed an eruption like the one in Tonga. Altitude determination was done thanks to a satellite. Usually the reach height is measured by means of a temperature probe. However, the plume from the volcano in Tonga has reached too high.
Study co-author Andrew Prata says he hopes the use of satellite techniques can be applied to the study of other volcanic eruptions. For now, the questions facing the scientific community are why the cloud reached such a height, what climatic consequences this would have on Earth, and what exactly the cloud is made of.
About 84% of the 105,000 inhabitants of all the islands of the Kingdom of Tonga were affected by the volcanic dust and subsequent tsunami. The wind has blown the dust as far as Alaska.