Photo: Tonga Geological Service
A few days ago the planet was placed on alert due to the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano in the South Pacific. But what is the volcanic activity in the seas due to?
By Laura Bridges
Volcanoes have always seemed to me very fascinating geological formations, and although I live in an area without volcanic activity, I have been fortunate to be close to some that are found in Mexico.
But, did you know that there are not only volcanoes on the earth’s surface but also underwater volcanoes? That’s right, these are found in the oceans and many are also active.
Almost a week has passed since the entire planet was put on alert due to the eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano, in the South Pacific, very close to the country of Tonga, where it caused waves of more than a meter high on the island .
However, the explosion of this volcano could be heard as far as the United States, and the waves on the coast of Peru increased. And in many places on the Pacific coast there were fears of the possibility of a tsunami.
The sea: with a lot of volcanic activity
To better understand, a submarine volcano is a volcano that is located entirely or mostly below sea level.
These types of structures form in places where magma from the interior of the Earth seeps through vents or fissures in the Earth’s crust into the ocean floor.
As explained by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Office. (NOAA) submarine volcanic eruptions are characteristic of the rupture zones where the tectonic plates of the earth’s crust are formed.
In this way, the magma rises and accumulates between the cracks in the rocks of the volcano, until there is no more space and it explodes, which triggers the eruption and also seismic movements in the area that give rise to tsunamis or tidal waves.
In data shared by NOAA, it is said that three-quarters of the planet’s volcanic activity corresponds to submarine eruptions.
a violent eruption
The eruption of the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai volcano lasted around 8 minutes, but was so powerful that it could be heard over 800 km away. In addition, the column of smoke and ash reached 20 kilometers in height and 260 kilometers in diameter.
In an article in The Conversation, volcanologist Shane Cronin, professor of Earth sciences at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, explains that this eruption was one of the strongest recorded in the last 30 years in the Tonga region.
Likewise, the geologist Daniel Melnick, a researcher at the Institute of Earth Sciences of the Universidad Austral in Chile, shared with BBC Mundo that When the magma, which can be around a thousand degrees centigrade, comes into sudden contact with the water, an extremely violent reaction occurs that fragments the magma.
However, the researchers point out that in order to know the reason for the explosion, the interaction of the magma with the water must be analyzed , in addition to studying the ash particles from previous eruptions and radiocarbon techniques. According to the specialists, the activity of this volcano is occurs every 1000 years.
Even so, the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai must continue to be studied, they hope that over time the island will return to normal, although it will take a few weeks for that, however, it is important to be alert for any alteration or movement that could cause another disaster.