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Why did the media ignore the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano?

Written By | Jan 16, 2022

Satellite imagery from Himawari-8, courtesy of NICT/JMA:

WASHINGTON, D.C.: A historic volcano of Biblical proportions didn’t get the respect it should have in the American news cycle. An underwater volcanic eruption off the island of Tonga occurred on 15 January Saturday at 4:10 UTC (9:10 ET in the USA of 14 January). The force of the explosion has not yet been released by scientists. However, in perspective, Mount St. Helens that exploded in Washington State in 1980 was estimated at around a 25-megaton explosion.

Many experts are saying this volcanic eruption was even greater.

The Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano was heard by ear as far away as Japan (5,000 miles away) and Alaska (6,000 miles away). Sound travels at 761 miles per hour. Shock waves which were also felt around the world travel slightly faster so people may have experienced the sensation of the shock wave before they heard the blast. The Kingdom of Tonga volcano of January 15th spread shock waves literally around half the world.  Where sound waves get lost in the curvature of the earth, shock waves go further.

Volcanologists measure volcano strength on a logarithmic scale called the volcanic explosivity index (VEI).

Again, for reference, the 1980 Mount St. Helens was rated as a VEI-5 disaster. Some volcanologists are saying the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano could be twice that… and it may not be done yet.

The VEI scale takes into consideration such variables as the volume of solid matter of tephra that is expelled during an eruption (tephra – lava, ash, and rock). Volcanologists also look at how high the erupting cloud of ash reaches into the atmosphere during the eruption. How far into the surrounding area the erupting gas and tephra are blown is also considered. In this instance, distances of the sound traveled and shock wave felt may also be added to the calculations.

A Twitter video surfaced and is going viral by a father and his two sons that offer the moment of the explosive eruption (Language warning):

In 2009 a volcanic eruption formed new land above water as deposits destroyed vegetation on neighboring Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai islands as it joined them as one larger island. On 19 January 2015, a satellite video captured the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai island volcanic eruption from space once again. The new satellite video and imagery captured on 15 January over the Tonga Kingdom everyone agrees is unlike anything we’ve ever witnessed with modern satellites.

Tonga is a group of 169 islands in the South Pacific.

They have a combined population of little more than 105,000 people. Roughly 70%, of residents, live on the main island of Tongatapu. There is a real concern for these residents as communications with these islands have largely been lost after the eruption and related shock waves.

In an interview with DW News of Volcanologist Shane Cronin of the University of Auckland New Zealand, Dr. Cronin reported,

“Yeah, it was a remarkable eruption. It was extremely explosive. Um, we’re sort of thinking it is the most explosive eruption in the 21st Century at the moment. It produced an ash column that went 30 kilometers (18.6 miles) in the air and within 30 minutes of the onset of the eruption, the actual eruption column viewed from the top was over 350 kilometers (217.5 miles) wide so extremely rapid rise and lateral expansion.

And the eruption column produced a pressure wave that traveled around the world bound across all over the world, including sites in the UK, Finland, and also the um eruption coupled with them then produced tsunami waves which traveled through the Pacific basin. And as you were just reporting tsunami waves of up to 80 centimeters (30 inches) were recorded in Japan and also tsunami waves were being recorded on the California coast of the USA.”

‘Massive volcano eruption triggers tsunami alerts across Pacific’ | DW News

The massive Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcanic eruption sent shockwaves across the South Pacific

Triggering tsunami warnings in multiple countries including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Peru, and as far as the west coasts of North America, Central America, and South America. People were urged to stay away from ocean shores and evacuate to higher ground on Saturday and Sunday. Today the people of the Kingdom of Tonga are being asked to stay indoors due to harmful gases emitted by the eruption.

The eruption at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai began intermittently from 29 December 2021 to 4 January 2022, though by 3 January activity had significantly decreased. Several surges of Surtseyan activity, with some periods lasting as long as 30 minutes, occurred during 28-29 December. Gas, steam, and ash plumes rose at least to 12.2 km (40,000 ft) a.s.l. and drifted north.

Steam and gas plumes were occasionally visible by space satellite data during 1-2 January. On 11 January the volcano was said to have gone inactive again. That was until 15 January when all hell broke loose in multiple eruptions.

Everyone around the world should be concerned about this event. (Jacinda Ardern says Tonga eruption ‘hugely concerning’ as NZ officials monitor the situation to establish how they can help)

The Tonga Kingdom sits on what scientists have termed “The Ring of Fire”

This is a very real map of the world where volcanoes and earthquakes often go hand-in-hand, one triggering another. Think of a ring of dominoes and you get the idea.

Tonga, Tsunami, Volcano, Ring of Fire

SVG version of File:Pacific_Ring_of_Fire.png, recreated by me using WDB vector data using code mentioned in File:Worldmap_wdb_combined.svg.

The earthquake of Fukushima, Japan, that took out one of their nuclear plants after a 2011 tsunami is to be remembered.

That event led to radioactive materials being inadvertently dumped into the Pacific Ocean that made it all the way to the coast of the Americas. That is a situation that will never be reversed, ever.

The climate change touted by the left should be of little concern to most of the world. Nuclear disasters merit all of our attention.

The most immediate concern now is for the aviation industry.

If the Covid pandemic were not enough to set this industry back on its heels, now they have to worry about the fallout from this volcano. Any commercial carrier that may inadvertently travel into this cloud of volcanic dust could be instantly doomed. The dust is not always readily detected unless the windshield begins to be fogged over (pitted).

Soon thereafter the jet engines grind (literally and physically) to a halt. What should be so very concerning to the aviation industry is the plume of this volcano went so much higher into the atmosphere than many previous volcanoes, 18.6 miles high. For reference, most commercial aircraft fly at about 5 miles high.

In this instance, this tremendous height of 18.9 miles means that plum of volcanic ash will wrap farther around the globe. Depending on prevailing winds, it could easily reach the Americas putting every domestic flight in peril.

God always is in control. This is His world, not ours.  This could be just His way of telling us to all stop fighting with one another over the little stuff and start worrying about the big stuff.

This volcano happening is the big stuff.


Read more from Mark Schwendau.

About the author:

Mark Schwendau is a conservative Christian patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development). He prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “bringing little known facts to people who want to know the truth.”

Mark appears “on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting.

His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech

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Mark Schwendau

Mark Schwendau is a Christian conservative patriot and retired technology professor (CAD-CAM and web development) who prides himself on his critical thinking ability. Schwendau has had a long sideline of newspaper editorial writing where he used the byline, “- bringing little known facts to people who simply want to know the truth.” Mark is on alternative free speech social media platforms after lifetime bans from Facebook and Twitter and shadow bans from Instagram and Fox News commenting. His website is www.IDrawIWrite.Tech