Tonga is a Polynesian Kingdom composed of 169 South Pacific islands with a population of under 105,000. 70% of the population is living on Tongatapu. New Zealand’s North Island is about 1,100 miles from Tonga.
The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano north of Tongatapu unexpectedly erupted on Jan. 14, 2022. There was no warning of the severity of this eruption and therefore, no opportunity to prepare for it.
At its highest point, the plume rose 36 miles (58 km) into the air, piercing the mesosphere – the third layer of the atmosphere. A secondary blast sent ash, gas and steam more than 31 miles (50 km) into the air.
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Pic Credit: Volcanic eruption on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai © 2021, Planet Labs PBC. All Rights Reserved.