Underwater Volcano Eruption in the Pacific Sends Multiple Countries Into Tsunami Watch
Back in March of 2021, a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit northeastern Japan prompting Japanese authorities to issue a warning that a tsunami may follow. The incident left the nation in disarray scrambling to deal with the earthquake's effects.
Now, an underwater volcano in the South Pacific has erupted leading to tsunamis reaching Hawaii, Japan, and Tonga's largest island, Tongatapu, according to CNN.
The volcano is called Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha'apai and it is located about 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) southeast of Tonga's Fonuafo'ou island. So far, it has erupted twice, once on Friday and a second time on Saturday.
This has resulted in ash, gas, and steam flying 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) into the air and falling in the Tonga capital of Nuku'alofa on Saturday evening. It has also resulted in a tsunami on Tongatapu.
Luckily, no deaths or injuries have been reported in Tonga, New Zealand's Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at a news conference on Sunday even though phone connections were down.
The eruption was also expected to affect areas situated across the Pacific such as the United States and Canada's British Columbia. The threat however did not last very long as by Sunday afternoon all tsunami advisories had been lifted, Japan's Meteorological Agency said.
In addition, further tsunamis across the country were ruled out even though tidal fluctuations were reported to continue. Japan's coast guard has found no damage as of yet in what is an instance of particularly good luck.
However, citizens of the affected areas are strongly encouraged to stay vigilant and away from beaches. Citizens have been reported to be stuck in traffic as they also seek to reach higher ground while many others have been reported to be seeking solace in evacuation centers.
To learn more, about the solutions put in place by Japan to deal with future tsunami events, read this article.
Professor Gretchen Benedix is an astrogeologist and cosmic mineralogist who studies meteorites and figures the forming stages of the solar system.