Report on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai (Tonga) — 24 December-30 December 2014
Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 December-30 December 2014
Managing Editor: Sally Kuhn Sennert
Please cite this report as:
Global Volcanism Program, 2014. Report on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai (Tonga). In: Sennert, S K (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 24 December-30 December 2014. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.
Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai
20.536°S, 175.382°W; summit elev. 114 m
All times are local (unless otherwise noted)
According to a news article, fisherman had reported an eruption at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai on 19 December. A photographer in Tongatapu captured a photo of a steam plume rising from the area on 30 December and noted that steam plumes had been visible since 24 December; dense clouds on the horizon prevented views before then. Terra MODIS imagery from 29 December also showed white plumes and areas of discolored water near the islands.
Geologic Background. The small islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai cap a large seamount located about 30 km SSE of Falcon Island. The two linear andesitic islands are about 2 km long and represent the western and northern remnants of the rim of a largely submarine caldera lying east and south of the islands. Hunga Tonga reaches an elevation of about 114 m above sea level, and both islands display inward-facing sea cliffs with lava and tephra layers dipping gently away from the submarine caldera. A rocky shoal 3.2 km SE of Hunga Ha'apai and 3 km south of Hunga Tonga marks a historically active vent. Several submarine eruptions have occurred at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai since the first historical eruption in 1912. An eruption that began in mid-December 2014 built a new island between the other two large islands.