A satellite image taken by a Japanese weather satellite shows the eruption Saturday.(Japan Meteorology Agency via AP)

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

A massive underwater volcano erupted near Tonga on Saturday, sending shockwaves and tsunamis around the globe. The eruption, viewed from space by satellites flying over the region, was violent and enormous, with a smoke and ash plume rapidly expanding across the region. The airwaves created by the eruption are so powerful they can be clearly seen spreading out through the atmosphere on satellite imagery.

The volcano, known as Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai, is located about 40 miles away from Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu, about 3,100 miles southwest of Hawaii and 1,500 miles north of New Zealand. The sound of the eruption could be heard several hundred miles away in Fiji, and the eruption immediately triggered tsunami warnings on both sides of the Pacific. 

The internet and power has been cut in Tonga so little information is available on damage, but initial video showed a tsunami as big as four feet flooding onto the island.

Tsunami waves did come ashore on the United States’ West Coast on Sunday morning, although they were relatively minor. 

Scientists in New Zealand who have studied the volcano say that the type of ash and magma coming from the eruption is less toxic than other kinds, but predicted that the main Tongan island will likely be completely covered in a coating of ash. Some news reports described residents of the island having breathing problems. 

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and it's truly crunch time: About 15 percent of our yearly online giving usually comes in during the final week of the year, and in "No Cute Headlines or Manipulative BS," we explain why we simply can't afford to come up short right now.

The bottom line: Corporations and powerful people with deep pockets will never sustain the type of journalism Mother Jones exists to do. And advertising or profit-driven ownership groups will never make time-intensive, in-depth reporting viable.

That's why donations big and small make up 74 percent of our budget this year. There is no backup to keep us going, no alternate revenue source, no secret benefactor. If readers don’t donate, we won’t be here. It's that simple.

And if you can help us out with a donation right now, all online gifts will be matched thanks to an incredibly generous matching gift pledge.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate