The eruption of the Tonga volcano in 2022, which was the largest explosion of the 21st century, has been confirmed by some careful data analysis.

The eruption was comparable in strength to the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines, which produced an ash cloud half the size of France.

Researchers used a new method to identify the scale of the eruption, cutting down on the amount of field work and direct measurement required. One eruption of the Volcanic Explosivity Index (VEI) rating of 6 is expected once every 50 years.

eruptions that occur every 50,000 years or so peak at 8. Scientists think that these explosions can produce as much as 1,000 kilometers of ejected air, and they haven't had any for tens of thousands of years.

A lot of eruptions happen in remote locations where there isn't a lot of equipment around to measure the event, so having an algorithm like this could be incredibly useful.

The network of hundreds of seismic monitoring stations that scientists now have can pick up the sound of earthquakes very quickly. The new approach uses the waves from the seismology to calculate the size of the eruption.

If there is enough data available, the algorithm can estimate volcanic eruption size in as little as an hour, which can help in assessing the size of the resulting ash cloud, and how that cloud might affect the environment around it.

The full title of the eruption in January 2022, which was called the Hunga Tonga, was destroyed 90 percent of the island.

The scale of the subsequent blast and the strength of the subsequent waves may have something to do with the way the volcano exploded.

Despite the unprecedented wealth of high-quality and rapidly available scientific data, the main quantitative parameters of the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption, such as its size in comparison with previous major eruptions, could not be estimated rapidly.

The need to develop new approaches for analysis of instrumental observations is emphasized.

The researchers admit that their framework is simple and can be refined in many ways in the future.

It is already able to make calculations in real time. More data on eruptions can lead to further improvements to the algorithm.

The research has been published.