Tonga volcano eruption released more energy than the most powerful nuclear bomb

According to a new study, the eruption of the underwater volcano in Tonga released more energy than the most powerful nuclear bomb of all time.

The eruption released more energy than the largest human-made explosion in history, according to researchers from the University ofSheffield.

There was a volcanic eruption at the island on January 15, 2022. The explosion generated acoustic-gravity waves that reached the edge of space and were recorded by satellites and instruments all over the world.

A type of acoustic-gravity wave called a Lamb wave was registered at weather stations all over the world. In comparison, earthquakes typically last for a few seconds to only a few minutes, and local atmospheric pressure suddenly increased with a pressure pulse, followed by a negative phase.

The location, local time of arrival of the Lamb wave, and pressure data, which were a valuable source of scientific information to help researchers determine the size of the volcanic eruption, were shared on social media by weather enthusiasts.

Credit: University of Sheffield

One of the most energetic events to have occurred over the last century was the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai eruption.

The eruption was larger than the Bomba's release of between 50 and 58 Mt. The pressure wave traveled around the globe as a result of the volcanic eruption.

On January 15 nature made us feel small triggering a large-scale event with tragic consequences. The study shows that this powerful eruption also generated a global science project, bringing together enthusiasts and professionals openly sharing their valuable measurements from all corners of the planet.

The study shows the potential of citizen science data for providing scientific insights on volcanic eruptions.

The paper on the Energetic output of the volcano eruption is in Shock Waves.

More information: J. S. Díaz et al, Energetic output of the 2022 Hunga Tonga–Hunga Ha'apai volcanic eruption from pressure measurements, Shock Waves (2022). DOI: 10.1007/s00193-022-01092-4

The data is available in a.csv format on the website.

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