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Report on Fonualei (Tonga) — 3 October-9 October 2001


Smithsonian / US Geological Survey Weekly Volcanic Activity Report,
3 October-9 October 2001
Managing Editor: Gari Mayberry

Please cite this report as:

Global Volcanism Program, 2001. Report on Fonualei (Tonga). In: Mayberry, G (ed.), Weekly Volcanic Activity Report, 3 October-9 October 2001. Smithsonian Institution and US Geological Survey.

Weekly Report (3 October-9 October 2001)



18.023°S, 174.317°W; summit elev. 188 m

All times are local (unless otherwise noted)

The Laboratoire de Géophysique reported that explosive volcanic activity may have occurred at Fonualei volcano during late September. On 27, 28, and 30 September numerous short T waves were received by the French Polynesian Seismic Network. The preliminary location of the seismicity was determined to be near the Tonga archipelago at 18.18°S (well constrained) and 174°W (not as well constrained). The hydro-acoustic activity was interpreted to be volcanic and explosive and could not be related to seismic activity at the Tonga Trench. According to the Laboratoire de Géophysique, the hydro-acoustic source could be near Fonualei volcano.

Geological Summary. The small island of Fonualei (~2 km diameter) contains a fumarolically active crater breached to the SE with a fresh lava flow extending to the sea and forming a rugged shoreline. Steep, inward-facing scarps mark the rim of a partially exposed caldera. Blocky lava flows fill much of the northern caldera moat and reach the sea to the north and east. In contrast to the andesitic and basaltic rocks of other islands of the Tonga arc, Fonualei lavas are of dominantly dacitic composition. Eruptions have been recorded since 1791, with the largest taking place in June 1846, when explosive eruptions produced large pumice rafts, ashfall damaged crops on the island of Vava'u (70 km SSE), and ash was reported by vessels up to 950 km distant. In 1939 explosive and effusive activity occurred from summit and flank vents, and water spouts were reported 1.6 km SE of the island.

Source: Laboratoire de Géophysique