Scientists Puzzled By Atmospheric Pulses From Colossal Volcanic Eruption

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An enormous undersea volcano within the South Pacific Ocean erupted on Jan 15, 2022, devastating Tonga as well as creating a multitude of airwave patterns that could be felt 10,000 kilometers afar in Alaska.

It also triggered a unique tsunami-like perturbation that reached the Pacific coasts earlier than the real tsunami, creating an air shock.

A group of scientists from 17 countries studied the eruption’s airwaves, the greatest documented from such a volcano after the 1883 Krakatoa outburst, and made several findings like these.

Insights further into the dynamics of certain atmospheric disturbances have been offered by the Hunga eruption, which occurred nearby the island of Tonga. Many sensors throughout Alaska, such as those measuring barometric pressure, sound waves, and earthquakes, all added to the analysis.

Researchers anticipate that with a deeper understanding of the airwaves generated by this explosion, we would be equipped to effectively track volcanic activity and tsunamis. Researchers can better comprehend the creation, transmission, and archiving of acoustic & atmospheric vibrations by analyzing this extraordinary dataset, specialists said. Tracking nuclear blasts, volcanic activity, and earthquakes might all benefit from this new technology.

Lamb waves are generated by the most powerful air blasts, such as those caused by volcanic activity and nuclear testing. From a few seconds to a few hours, they’re possible.

A Lamb wave is a directed wave that travels in a straight line down the face of a material and extends upwards. Similar to that recorded throughout the 1883 Krakatau eruption, the wave went over the Earth’s crust and looped the globe 4 times in 1 direction as well as 3 times in the other way.

The occurrence of a lamb wave is very unusual. According to the experts, we only have a small number of high-quality reports of them. We can learn more about the eruption’s origins and dynamics by studying the Lamb wave. An earthquake and tsunami may be connected to the formation of high-frequency infrasonic and acoustic vibrations, as well as the higher-frequency infrasound again from the explosion. Repetitive booms were heard 9 hours just after the explosion.

The findings were published in Science.

William Reid
A science writer through and through, William Reid’s first starting working on offline local newspapers. An obsessive fascination with all things science/health blossomed from a hobby into a career. Before hopping over to Optic Flux, William worked as a freelancer for many online tech publications including ScienceWorld, JoyStiq and Digg. William serves as our lead science and health reporter.