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Explained: How Tonga volcano eruption produced the largest atmospheric explosion in history

The satellite observations revealed that the same also produced ripple-like gravity waves which expanded to the Pacific basin.

During its study, the team found that a depression had dropped in depth from less than 200 metres below sea level to over 850 metres. (IE)

In one of the most explosive volcanic events in the recent era, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano erupted this January. It not only produced the largest atmospheric explosion in history, but also shocked the world. Published in ‘Nature’, the new study combines satellite data with ground-level observations. It not only shows that the eruption was unique in speed but also led to the creation of atmospheric waves.

Notably, the volcano erupted on January 15, 2022. This led to the production of vertical plume of ash which spread to over 50 kilometres above the surface of the earth. According to the study, the heat was released for the next 12 hours from the water. During the same time, the hot ash remained the biggest source of gravity waves on the earth.

The satellite observations also revealed that the same also produced ripple-like gravity waves which expanded to the Pacific basin. The study further revealed that the volcano triggered atmospheric waves that echoed the earth over six times. It also reached a speed of 320 metres per second.

As per the report, the waves reached the edge of space, making the researchers describe the event as unique. Apart from this, the observations will also help them improve future atmospheric weather and climate models.

Earlier in May 2022, Shane Cronin, a volcanologist from the New Zealand’s University of Auckland, along with his team, had sailed over the volcano’s caldera, the central depression formed after the eruption of the volcano. The team used sonar to study the caldera’s structure.

During its study, the team found that a depression had dropped in depth from less than 200 metres below sea level to over 850 metres. Detailing the research, the team said that one of the reasons behind the explosion could be the interaction between large amounts of magma and water when the eruption started.

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