Earthquake strikes Tonga just days after devastating volcanic eruption

Earthquake strikes Tonga just days after it was devastated by a volcanic eruption
Earthquake strikes Tonga just days after it was devastated by a volcanic eruption

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) reported that a magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck west-northwest of Pangai, Tonga, on Thursday, almost two weeks after the Pacific kingdom was devastated by a volcanic eruption and tsunami.

The earthquake struck at a depth of 14.5km.

The epicenter was located 219km (136 miles) northwest of Pangai, a town on the remote island of Lifuka, according to USGS data.

There were no immediate reports of damage, but communication is limited after the earlier eruption severed the main underwater cable connecting Tonga to the world.

The area has seen daily earthquake activity since the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai volcano erupted on January 15, killing three people and sending a tsunami across the wider Pacific.

The volcanic eruption, the biggest since Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, released a huge ash cloud that blanketed the Pacific island nation and prevented surveillance to determine the extent of the damage.

There are an estimated one million undersea volcanoes that, like continental volcanoes, are located near the Earth’s tectonic plates where they form.

According to the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration group, about “three-quarters of all volcanic activity on Earth actually occurs underwater.”

In 2015, the Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai spewed so many large rocks and ash into the air that it led to the formation of a new island.

On December 20 and then on January 13, the volcano erupted again, creating ash clouds that could be seen from the Tonga island Tongatapu.

On January 15, the massive eruption triggered a tsunami around the Pacific, in a process whose origins are still debated among scientists.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Related News