Falcon Island

Photo of this volcano
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  • Country
  • Volcanic Region
  • Primary Volcano Type
  • Last Known Eruption
  • 20.32°S
  • 175.42°W

  • -17 m
    -56 ft

  • 243050
  • Latitude
  • Longitude

  • Summit
    Elevation

  • Volcano
    Number

Most Recent Bulletin Report: 1974 (Ref 1984)


No activity as of 1974

Admiralty sailing directions (Hydrographer of the Royal Navy, 1984) reported volcanic activity at 20.85°S, 175.55°W in 1970, the site of 1911 and 1923 activity, but noted that in 1974 the volcano was dormant. This entry suggests that the Navy received a report of activity from a passing ship.

Reference. Hydrographer of the Royal Navy, 1984, West approaches - off-lying danger: Pacific Islands Pilot, v. II, British Admiralty Bureau, London, UK, p. 330.

Information Contacts: See Reference

The Global Volcanism Program has no Weekly Reports available for Falcon Island.

Bulletin Reports - Index


Reports are organized chronologically and indexed below by Month/Year (Publication Volume:Number), and include a one-line summary. Click on the index link or scroll down to read the reports.

02/1970 (CSLP 70-16) Large area of water discoloration

00/1974 (Ref 1984) No activity as of 1974




Information is preliminary and subject to change. All times are local (unless otherwise noted)


February 1970 (CSLP 70-16)


Large area of water discoloration

Card 0870 (16 February 1970) Large area of water discoloration

William Melson and Robert A. Citron, of the Smithsonian Institution, are on location in the South Pacific . . . . Citron reported the following by cable: "Captain B.N. Rankin, Fiji Airways, spotted submarine volcanic activity on 3 January in vicinity Falcon Island. Rankin estimates discoloration of water covered 500 acre area with a definite division between a patch forming the centre and that surrounding it which was lighter in color. Captain Hillwilliss, Nukualofa, Tonga, believes shoal is Falcon Island. Captain N.M. Ganley, Fiji Airways, gave position of shoal at 35 miles [56 km] SW of . . . Falcon Island."

Information Contacts: Robert A. Citron, Center for Short-Lived Phenomena, Smithsonian Institution.


1974 (Ref 1984)


No activity as of 1974

Admiralty sailing directions (Hydrographer of the Royal Navy, 1984) reported volcanic activity at 20.85°S, 175.55°W in 1970, the site of 1911 and 1923 activity, but noted that in 1974 the volcano was dormant. This entry suggests that the Navy received a report of activity from a passing ship.

Reference. Hydrographer of the Royal Navy, 1984, West approaches - off-lying danger: Pacific Islands Pilot, v. II, British Admiralty Bureau, London, UK, p. 330.

Information Contacts: See Reference

Basic Data

Volcano Number

Last Known Eruption

Elevation

Latitude
Longitude
243050

1936 CE

-17 m / -56 ft

20.32°S
175.42°W

Volcano Types

Submarine

Rock Types

Major
Andesite / Basaltic Andesite
Dacite

Tectonic Setting

Subduction zone
Oceanic crust (< 15 km)

Population

Within 5 km
Within 10 km
Within 30 km
Within 100 km
302
302
532
69,016

Geological Summary

The ephemeral Falcon Island in the central part of the Tonga Islands was named after the British vessel H.M.S. Falcon, which reported a shoal in 1865. Falcon Island has been the site of island-forming eruptions on at least two occasions since the 19th century. Islands up to 6 km in length were formed in eruptions beginning in 1885 and 1927; in 1933 the island had a height of more than 145 m. Passing ships often reported "smoke" issuing from the site of Falcon Island. The latest explosive eruptions were reported in 1936. By 1949 the island had eroded beneath sea level, but the summit of the volcano remains at shallow depths.

References

The following references have all been used during the compilation of data for this volcano, it is not a comprehensive bibliography.

Baker S W, 1885. A description of the new volcano in the Friendly Islands, near Tongatabu. Trans New Zeal Inst, 18: 41-46.

Hoffmeister J E, Ladd H S, Alling H L, 1929. Falcon Island. Amer J Sci, 18: 461-471.

Melson W G, Jarosewich E, Lundquist C A, 1970. Volcanic eruption at Metis Shoal, Tonga, 1967-1968: description and petrology. Smithsonian Contr Earth Sci, 4: 1-18.

Phillips C, 1898. The volcanoes of the Pacific. Trans New Zeal Inst, 31: 510-551.

Richard J J, 1962. Kermadec, Tonga and Samoa. Catalog of Active Volcanoes of the World and Solfatara Fields, Rome: IAVCEI, 13: 1-38.

Taylor P W, Ewart A, 1997. The Tofua Volcanic Arc, Tonga, SW Pacific: a review of historic volcanic activity. Aust Volc Invest Occ Rpt, 97/01: 1-58.

Thomson J A, 1926. Volcanoes of the New Zealand-Tonga volcanic zone--a record of eruptions. New Zeal J Sci Tech, B8: 354-371.

Eruptive History


Summary of Holocene eruption dates and Volcanic Explosivity Indices (VEI).


Start Date Stop Date Eruption Certainty VEI Evidence Activity Area or Unit
[ 1970 Jan 3 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0  
1936 Jun Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1933 Apr Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
1927 Oct 4 1928 Sep (in or after) Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1921 Nov ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0  
[ 1894 Dec ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0  
1885 Oct 12 (?) 1886 Confirmed 3 Historical Observations
1877 Unknown Confirmed 2 Historical Observations
[ 1865 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0  
[ 1781 ] [ Unknown ] Uncertain 0  

This compilation of synonyms and subsidiary features may not be comprehensive. Features are organized into four major categories: Cones, Craters, Domes, and Thermal Features. Synonyms of features appear indented below the primary name. In some cases additional feature type, elevation, or location details are provided.


Synonyms

Fonua Fo'ou | Culebras Bank (?) | Kahe Kahe | Fefina

Photo Gallery


Falcon Island is seen from the SE showing the active crater through the SE breach; a steam column is dispersed to the NW by dominant SE Trade Winds. The ephemeral Falcon Island in the central part of the Tonga Islands was named after the British vessel H.M.S. Falcon, which reported a shoal in 1865. Falcon Island has been the site of island-forming eruptions on at least two occasions since the 19th century. By 1949 the island had eroded beneath sea level, but the summit of the volcano remains at shallow depths.

Photo by A. Thompson (published in Taylor and Ewart, 1997).

Smithsonian Sample Collections Database


A listing of samples from the Smithsonian collections will be available soon.

Affiliated Sites

Large Eruptions of Falcon Island Information about large Quaternary eruptions (VEI >= 4) is cataloged in the Large Magnitude Explosive Volcanic Eruptions (LaMEVE) database of the Volcano Global Risk Identification and Analysis Project (VOGRIPA).
WOVOdat WOVOdat is a database of volcanic unrest; instrumentally and visually recorded changes in seismicity, ground deformation, gas emission, and other parameters from their normal baselines. It is sponsored by the World Organization of Volcano Observatories (WOVO) and presently hosted at the Earth Observatory of Singapore.
EarthChem EarthChem develops and maintains databases, software, and services that support the preservation, discovery, access and analysis of geochemical data, and facilitate their integration with the broad array of other available earth science parameters. EarthChem is operated by a joint team of disciplinary scientists, data scientists, data managers and information technology developers who are part of the NSF-funded data facility Integrated Earth Data Applications (IEDA). IEDA is a collaborative effort of EarthChem and the Marine Geoscience Data System (MGDS).
MODVOLC - HIGP MODIS Thermal Alert System Using infrared satellite Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data, scientists at the Hawai'i Institute of Geophysics and Planetology, University of Hawai'i, developed an automated system called MODVOLC to map thermal hot-spots in near real time. For each MODIS image, the algorithm automatically scans each 1 km pixel within it to check for high-temperature hot-spots. When one is found the date, time, location, and intensity are recorded. MODIS looks at every square km of the Earth every 48 hours, once during the day and once during the night, and the presence of two MODIS sensors in space allows at least four hot-spot observations every two days. Each day updated global maps are compiled to display the locations of all hot spots detected in the previous 24 hours. There is a drop-down list with volcano names which allow users to 'zoom-in' and examine the distribution of hot-spots at a variety of spatial scales.
MIROVA Middle InfraRed Observation of Volcanic Activity (MIROVA) is a near real time volcanic hot-spot detection system based on the analysis of MODIS (Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) data. In particular, MIROVA uses the Middle InfraRed Radiation (MIR), measured over target volcanoes, in order to detect, locate and measure the heat radiation sourced from volcanic activity.