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Tonga Earthquake and Volcano

A volcano near the main Tonganese island Tongatapu erupted today after a cluster of earthquakes near Tonga, the large archipelago stretching between Australia and Tahiti. The earthquake is being reported as a 7.9 magnitude by usgs. Several earlier magnitude-5.0 quakes between Sunday night and Monday evening, however, were not suspected as the cause of the volcanic eruption: (best photos!) (Flickr stream) (videos below)

[…] Professor [Simon] Turner said the events were probably not linked. “If this eruption was caused by the earthquake, it would mean magma coming 110 km to the surface in a few days,” he said. “I think that would be fairly unlikely.” [Source: The Times]

A tsunami threatwatch has also been called off [fiji comments]. But for climate doomsayers and environmental eco-threat evangelists, this is interesting:

However if the volcano continued to grow, it had the potential to be devastating, one expert told The Times. Professor Simon Turner, a geochemist at Macquarie University in Sydney, said: “Underwater volcanos can be violent, and have a strong climatic effect… This one isn’t getting into the stratosphere yet but as it continues to grow that is a possibility. Pinatubo’s big eruption in the 1990s reduced northern hemisphere temperatures by 0.2 C.” [Source: The Times]

Pictures are hard to find, but the best are at… and here are a few. More in depth information at the usgs, and some video and a few more pictures at sciam and the nytimes.

March 19, 2009
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