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Archive for the ‘Rumble III’ Category

Hunga Ha’apai Volcano Update

Posted by feww on March 22, 2009

Another reminder that volcanic eruptions can destroy everything around them

Hunga Ha’apai eruption “has destroyed rich birdlife and vegetation, leaving a wasteland of black ash and tree stumps,” eyewitness reports say.

Groups of  people who have traveled to the volcanic site described frequent explosions that ejected rocks and ash and spewed smoke hundreds of meters into the air, AFP reported.

hunga-haapai-afp
Ash rises several hundred meters into the air from Hunga Ha’apai, 62km north-northwest of the Tongan capital Nuku’alofa. [Undated photo, possibly taken on Mar 20 or 21, 2009.] Photograph: AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

The volcano, which is located on the small islet of  Hunga Ha’apai, about 62km km north- northwest of the Tongan capital Island of Nuku’alofa, began erupting on March 16, 2009, and  continued to ash, volcanic gasses and rocks into the air.

A journalist visiting the Island said: “The island itself is totally destroyed …  there is no living thing left there, it’s all covered in black ash.”

“There are only black stumps where the coconut trees were,” he added. “We saw dead birds and fish in the water.”

According to Tonga’s chief geologist, Kelepi Mafi, who reportedly inspected the area on Thursday, the volcanic debris ejected from the volcano filled the 100 m gap between the offshore vent and  the main vent on Hunga Ha’apai, adding hundreds of square meters to the islet’s land mass.

Mafi reiterated that the government has warned sightseers to stay away from the area, which is very dangerous.

“It’s very interesting, but it’s very risky also,” he said, adding that he expected the eruption to continue for another couple of days.

However, given the renewed seismic activity in the area, and other factors not discussed here, FEWW believes one or more of the following scenarios may likely occur:

1. Eruption could continue for many days (up to several weeks).
2. Hunga Ha’apai’s activity could become sporadic, with extended ‘off’ and ‘on’ periods, lasting for several months (up to a year or so).
3. One or more of volcanoes in the region’s volcanic cluster could erupt.

Related Links:

An earthquake forecast for California will be published here by Tuesday March 24, 2009.

Posted in Metis Shoal, NUKUALOFA, Rumble III, seismic activity, volcanism | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »

Weekly Volcano Watch: 19 March 2009

Posted by feww on March 19, 2009

Volcanic Activity Report: 11 March – 17 March 2009

Source: SI / USGS Weekly Volcanic Activity Report

New activity/unrest:

VoW: Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, Tonga

Tonga Islands 20.57°S, 175.38°W; summit elev. 149 m – submarine volcano

An underwater volcanic eruption near the twin islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai spewed a large column of  off-white smoke into the air. The plume rose to altitudes of about 8 km [possibly as high as 15km.]

tonga-ap
Hunga Ha’apai eruption [March 17-18, 2009] Aerial photo by Trevor Gregory/AP. Source. Image may be subject to copyright.

Observers flying near the area of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai (about 62 km NNW of Nuku’alofa, the capital of Tonga) on 16 or 17 March reported seeing an eruption. Photos showed an eruption plume with a wide base that rose from the sea surface and mixed with meteorological clouds. Based on information from the Tonga airport and analysis of satellite imagery, the Wellington VAAC reported that on 18 March, a plume rose to altitudes of 4.6-7.6 km (15,000-25,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted NE.

Geologic Summary. The small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai cap a large seamount located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The two linear andesitic islands are about 2 km long and represent the western and northern remnants of a the rim of a largely submarine caldera lying east and south of the islands. Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai reach an elevation of only 149 m and 128 m above sea level, respectively, and display inward-facing sea cliffs with lava and tephra layers dipping gently away from the submarine caldera. A rocky shoal 3.2 km SE of Hunga Ha’apai and 3 km south of Hunga Tonga marks the most prominent historically active vent. Several submarine eruptions have occurred at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai since the first historical eruption in 1912. GVP reported.


The small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai cap a large seamount located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The two linear andesitic islands are about 2 km long and represent the western and northern remnants of a the rim of a largely submarine caldera lying east and south of the islands. Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai reach an elevation of only 149 m and 128 m above sea level, respectively, and display inward-facing sea cliffs with lava and tephra layers dipping gently away from the submarine caldera. A rocky shoal 3.2 km SE of Hunga Ha’apai and 3 km south of Hunga Tonga marks the most prominent historically active vent. Submarine eruptions were reported here in 1912 and 1937 and from a fissure 1 km SSE of Hunga Ha’apai in 1988. Aerial photo by Tonga Ministry of Lands, Survey, and Natural Resources, 1991 (published in Taylor and Ewart, 1997). Caption: GVP.


Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano from space. Image captured by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite  on March 18, 2008. “In this image, the area around the eruption appears bright blue-green, likely resulting from sediment suspended in the water. The brilliant white patch at the center of the sediment-rich area may result from vapor released by the volcano. Northwest of the eruption site, a serpentine pumice raft floats on the water. The highly porous nature of pumice enables this volcanic rock to form floating rafts. (A larger pumice raft resulted from a similar eruption in the Tonga Islands in August 2006.).” Earth Observatory said.


A March 18 photo of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai eruption as seen from the Nuku’alofa waterfront. Photo: AP/Matangi Tonga Online. Source. Image may be subject to copyright.

volcanoes-of-tonga
USGS Map of Major Volcanoes of Tonga with the approximate location of
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano marked.


Photo dated
Wednesday, March 18, 2009. Source: Xinhua/AFP. Image may be subject to copyright.

Video: Underwater volcano erupts off Tonga

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano

Flights were disrupted and airlines alerted after the undersea Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted.  Air New Zealand flights were forced to divert to  avoid  smoke, which reportedly rose to a height of about 15 km, various media reported.

The volcano located about 12km off the southwest coast off the main island of Tongatapu  is thought to have erupted on Monday. Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai is one of about 40 submarine volcanoes in the area.

It’s thought that the eruption does not pose an immediate threat to the residents because trade winds are blowing the smokes and  gases away from the island.

“It’s a very significant eruption, on quite a large scale.” Said Tonga’s Geological Service Chief, Keleti Mafi.

Rumble III

On March 13, the underwater volcano Rumble III,  located about 300km northeast of Bay of Plenty, New Zealand, was discovered to have undergone a “startling change” losing about 100m of its summit, with the 800m-wide crater completely missing, apparently in a catastrophic explosion.

Metis Shoal

On February 3, FEWW forecast that Metis Shoal, a submarine volcano located midway between the islands of Kao and Late (about 50 km NNE of Kao), was about to erupt, or was currently undergoing a period of unrest.

FEWW moderators believe that both  Metis Shoal, if indeed it has erupted / is erupting, and Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanoes may have been triggered simultaneously.

FEWW List of Forgotten Volcanoes

Ongoing Volcanic Activity:

Elevated Volcanic Activity and Information Releases

Wednesday, Mar 18, 2009 at 17:47:50 PDT.

The following U.S. volcanoes are known to be above normal background (elevated unrest or eruptions) or have shown activity that warranted an Information Release (for example, an earthquake swarm).

Times are local to the volcano and in 24-hr format.
Volcano Alert Levels & Aviation Color Codes defined at http://volcanoes.usgs.gov/activity/alertsystem.

Volcano Hazards Program Webcams page links to webcams at 19 of the 169 active volcanoes in the U-S.

Related Links:

Posted in Chaiten, Galeras, Metis Shoal, Redoubt, Rumble III | Tagged: , , , , | 2 Comments »