Written by Ayushi Saha, a student at Delhi University.
On the 14th of January, a massive volcanic eruption took place near a remote island in the South Pacific Ocean called Tonga. It triggered a Tsunami that was 100 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped by the US on Hiroshima during World War second, NASA, the U.S. space agency has said.
Where are the Tonga islands?
Tonga, officially the Kingdom of Tonga, and also popularly called the Friendly Islands, lie in the southwestern Pacific Ocean. There are, in all, some 170 islands that make up the country.
These islands lie along, what’s called, the Ring of Fire belt
What’s the Ring of Fire?
The Ring of Fire is a name given to a path in the Pacific Ocean where there are many active volcanoes and where frequent earthquakes take place. In fact, 90% of earthquakes happen here and 75% of all active volcanoes are also found along the Ring of Fire!
Why is that?
This is because there are huge tectonic plates (think of them as massive slabs of Earth’s crust) that are constantly moving. Sometimes the plates collide, and that’s when the earthquakes happen.
A massive undersea volcano erupted on the 14th of January. It was so big that the islands were covered in ash and there was a mountain of smoke. All communication was lost with the people there. It destroyed villages there.
Also, the shockwave close to the speed of sound, and caused large waves across the Pacific – thousands of kilometres away to the shores of Japan and Peru! In Peru, an oil tanker near the coast overturned causing an oil spill, leading to the death of many aquatic animals. The sonic boom was so loud it could be heard in New Zealand, which is more than 2300 kilometres away and also in Alsaka – over 9700 km away!
NASA, the American space agency, has now said that the Tonga eruption released hundreds of times the equivalent mechanical energy than the Hiroshima nuclear explosions (the nuclear explosions of Hiroshima and Nagasaki took place at the end of the Second World War in which the United States dropped two nuclear weapons over the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 in which over 200,000 people died)
Aftermath – assistance from international countries:
- The US said it would provide additional amount of 2.5 million dollar to the initial pledge of $100,000 in humanitarian assistance to the country through the US agency for international development.
- Shipments are continuing from several countries without making contact with anyone on the island itself due to the covid measures.
- Britain said its ships arrived with 30000 litres of bottled water and medical supplies for more than 300 first aid kits.