Fallout from Tonga volcano both tragic and awe-inspiring

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Editorials

January 18, 2022 - 8:47 AM

The Ring of Fire is a path along the Pacific Ocean characterized by active volcanoes and frequent earthquakes.

Saturday’s volcanic eruption on a remote Pacific island reminds us of how powerful and whimsical nature is. 

The underwater eruption was so vast it was easily seen in satellite photos from space. Ash and smoke bellowed 19 miles high. A sonic boom from the eruption could be heard across the South Pacific and as far away as Alaska, 5,800 miles away. The shock sent tsunami waves halfway around the world, five hours to reach New Zealand, 1,500 miles away; 11 hours to Alaska. In Peru, 6,600 miles away, two people drowned off a beach due to high waves caused by the tsunami.

The massive Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano was nestled between two small islands, connected by the uppermost part of the caldera — the opening of the volcano — which spanned about 3.5 miles.

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