Watch: Jaw-dropping images show Tonga volcano eruption from space



The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano began to erupt in December 2021, but in the middle of January 2022, it exploded with incredible force.

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The blast sent tsunami waves pummeling across the Pacific Ocean and covered the island nation of Tonga in a thick blanket of ash.

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Tonga, other countries, and aid organizations are still trying to assess the full extent of the damage.

Meanwhile, scientists are mapping potential atmospheric and environmental side effects that may come in the explosion’s wake.

The eruption is a “once-in-a-millennium event,” according to University of Auckland volcanologist Shane Cronin writing for CNN recently.

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“The eruption was remarkable in that it involved the simultaneous formation of a volcanic ash plume, an atmospheric shock wave, and a series of tsunami waves.”

Due to its enormity, the volcano’s eruption could easily be seen from space.

Several satellites captured the violent explosion and quick-spreading ash clouds.


Here are 8 satellite views of the Tonga volcano eruption, from space:

8. The Japan Meteorological Agency’s Himawari-8 satellite captured the real-time growth of the volcano’s ash cloud.

JMA/CIMSS, University of Wisconsin – Madison, USA

6. Here’s a similar view from NOAA’s GOES-17 satellite.


5. As day breaks, the volcano’s ash cloud can be seen spreading in this shot from Himawari-8.


6. A Maxar Technologies satellite captured the volcano smoldering in December, weeks before the big explosion.

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3. This infrared shot was taken by GOES-17 after the blast. Infrared can track volcanic ash and sulfur dioxide as it spreads.


2. Here’s GOES-17’s true-color image of the volcano’s ash cloud spreading.


1. An Earth-wide volcanic shock wave, also tracked by GOES-17.


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