Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network

All reports of volcanic activity published by the Smithsonian since 1968 are available through a monthly table of contents or by searching for a specific volcano. Until 1975, reports were issued for individual volcanoes as information became available; these have been organized by month for convenience. Later publications were done in a monthly newsletter format. Links go to the profile page for each volcano with the Bulletin tab open.

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 Bulletin of the Global Volcanism Network - Volume 42, Number 06 (June 2017)

Managing Editor: Edward Venzke

Unnamed (Tonga)

Plumes of discolored water seen in satellite imagery during 23-28 January 2017

Unnamed (Tonga) — June 2017 Citation iconCite this Report



20.852°S, 175.55°W; summit elev. -296 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

Plumes of discolored water seen in satellite imagery during 23-28 January 2017

Murray Ford, a coastal geomorphologist from New Zealand's Auckland University, reported in a Radio New Zealand story on 1 February 2017 that satellite imagery showed a large plume of discolored water between Tongatapu and the volcanic Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai islands. The activity seen by Murray was on a Landsat 8 OLI (Operational Land Imager) satellite image acquired on 27 January 2017 (figure 2). which showed a bright area of discolored water above the summit and a broader area of discolored water immediately NW, likely from previous events. According to volcanologist Brad Scott (GNS Science) there are additional satellite images from 23, 26, 28, and 29 January 2017, indicating that the eruption had been ongoing for over a week. His colleagues in Tonga indicated a possible associated steam plume, but cloud cover made observations uncertain.

Figure (see Caption) Figure 2. Landsat 8 OLI satellite image a submarine plume from an unnamed seamount in Tonga on 27 January 2017, about 33 km NW of Tongatapu island. A small bright area of discolored water is directly over the summit (bottom center), with a small plume immediately N, and a broad area of discolored water to the NW, likely from previous eruptive events. The larger plume to the NW measures 30 km long and 20 km wide. Courtesy of NASA Earth Observatory (https://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/IOTD/view.php?id=89565).

A report prepared by Taylor (2000) noted that there had been four previous reports of activity from this location: submarine activity in August 1911, a steam plume in July 1923, discolored water in 1970, and an ephemeral island near the end of an eruptive episode during 27 December 1998-14 January 1999 (also see BGVN 24:03). In a blog post about the latest eruption, Brad Scott (GNS Science) also stated that there had been discolored water and felt earthquakes sometime in 2007.

Reference: Taylor, P., 2000, A volcanic hazards assessment following the January 1999 eruption of Submarine Volcano III, Tofua Volcanic Arc, Kingdom of Tonga, Australian Volcanological Investigations (AVI) Occasional Report No. 99/01, 5 August 2000, 7 p.

Geologic Background. An unnamed submarine volcano is located 35 km NW of the Niu Aunofo lighthouse on Tongatapu Island. Tongatapu is a coral island at the southern end of an island chain paralleling the Tofua volcanic arc to the E. The volcano was constructed at the S end of a submarine ridge segment of the Tofua volcanic arc extending NNE to Falcon Island. The first documented eruptions took place in 1911 and 1923; an ephemeral island was formed in 1999.

Information Contacts: NASA Earth Observatory, EOS Project Science Office, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Goddard, Maryland, USA (URL: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/); Brad Scott, New Zealand GeoNet Project, a collaboration between the Earthquake Commission and GNS Science, Wairakei Research Centre, Private Bag 2000, Taupo 3352, New Zealand (URL: http://www.geonet.org.nz/; http://info.geonet.org.nz/display/volc/2017/02/01/Submarine+eruption+in+progress+in+Tonga); Radio New Zealand (URL: http://www.radionz.co.nz/international/pacific-news/323569/scientist-discovers-underwater-eruption-in-tonga).

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 Atmospheric Effects

The enormous aerosol cloud from the March-April 1982 eruption of Mexico's El Chichón persisted for years in the stratosphere, and led to the Atmospheric Effects section becoming a regular feature of the Bulletin. Descriptions of the initial dispersal of major eruption clouds remain with the individual eruption reports, but observations of long-term stratospheric aerosol loading will be found in this section.

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 Special Announcements

Special announcements of various kinds and obituaries.

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 Additional Reports

Reports are sometimes published that are not related to a Holocene volcano. These might include observations of a Pleistocene volcano, earthquake swarms, or floating pumice. Reports are also sometimes published in which the source of the activity is unknown or the report is determined to be false. All of these types of additional reports are listed below by subregion and subject.


False Report of Sea of Marmara Eruption

Africa (northeastern) and Red Sea

False Report of Somalia Eruption

Africa (eastern)

False Report of Elgon Eruption

Kermadec Islands

Floating Pumice (Kermadec Islands)

1986 Submarine Explosion

Tonga Islands

Floating Pumice (Tonga)

Fiji Islands

Floating Pumice (Fiji)

New Britain


Andaman Islands

False Report of Andaman Islands Eruptions

Sangihe Islands

1968 Northern Celebes Earthquake

Kawio Barat


False Report of Mount Pinokis Eruption

Southeast Asia

Pumice Raft (South China Sea)

Land Subsidence near Ham Rong

Ryukyu Islands and Kyushu

Pumice Rafts (Ryukyu Islands)

Izu, Volcano, and Mariana Islands

Mikura Seamount

Acoustic Signals in 1996 from Unknown Source

Acoustic Signals in 1999-2000 from Unknown Source

Kuril Islands

Possible 1988 Eruption Plume



Aleutian Islands

Possible 1986 Eruption Plume


False Report of New Volcano




La Lorenza Mud Volcano



Pacific Ocean (Chilean Islands)

False Report of Submarine Volcanism

Central Chile and Argentina

Estero de Parraguirre

West Indies

Mid-Cayman Spreading Center

Atlantic Ocean (northern)

Northern Reykjanes Ridge


Azores-Gibraltar Fracture Zone

Antarctica and South Sandwich Islands

Jun Jaegyu

East Scotia Ridge

 Special Announcements

Special Announcement Reports