Volcanic & Seismic Activity 

Hunga Tonga Eruption Likely A Small VEI 5, Cooling Implications Explained

Hunga Tonga Eruption Likely A Small VEI 5

Information out of Tonga has been scarce since Jan 15’s violent volcanic eruption, but the puzzle is beginning to be pieced together, albeit slowly. According to volcanologist Professor Shane Cronin, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai delivered the biggest explosion since Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines some 30 years ago (VEI 6).

University of Auckland’s Cronin said scenes on the ground immediately after the eruption would have appeared apocalyptic: “The clouds that people could see in the distance, the booming noises and then the waves coming from the first tsunami…The next step is when the ash clouds spread across Tongatapu, and that ash cloud is so dense with fine ash particles that it blocks the sun completely, so it gets really dark.”

Those ash particles were propelled to heights of 30km (98,425ft) –well into the stratosphere– where they then ballooned out, forming an umbrella with a diameter of 260km (162 miles).

“The large and explosive lateral spread of the eruption suggests that it was probably the biggest one since the 1991 eruption of Pinatubo,” added Cronin. This is a contention gathering support in some circles. However, estimations still vary widely, ranging from a mid-VEI 4 to a powerful VEI 6. The full details of the eruption likely won’t be confirmed for weeks.

Cronin and his research team camped on Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai in 2015 and noticed that the surrounding coral reef was lifting up, suggesting that magma was building underneath the volcano and could cause an eruption in the near future. The team found evidence of two previous mega-eruptions in AD 1100 and AD 200, suggesting they occur roughly once every 1000 years — making us due for a third.

Cooling Implications Explained

The Mount Pinatubo eruption of 1991 (VEI 6) pumped 15 million tons of sulfur dioxide (SO2) into the atmosphere and cooled the planet by 1C for the next year and a half. And although data on Hunga Tonga is still sketchy, it is thought the explosion released 400,000 metric tons of SO2, which would put it on par with a La Soufriere (2021) or a Calbuco (2015/16), both VEI 4s, rather than a Mt St Helens (1980) or El Chichón (1982), both VEI 5s.

The confusion, and the reason some have suggested Jan 15’s explosion was a VEI 6, is down to the sheer size of that monstrous eruption plume (with plume size being key component when indexing a volcanic eruption, along with the thickness of ejected ash and the volume of SO2). However, Saturday’s impressive 30km ash column is likely explained by Hunga Tonga being a submarine volcano: The abundance of ocean water at shallow depths greatly amplified the size of the explosion, making the eruption far larger than if the same event had occurred on land. This line of thinking, especially when combined with Hunga only releasing 400,000 tons of SO2 (a gas released by all volcanic eruptions–the measurement of which closely aligns with the amount of eruptive magma, whether that be through the flow of lava or the ejection of fine ash) adds support to Jan’s eruption being a mid/large-VEI 4 or a small VEI 5 at best, rather than anything bigger.

For reference, the eruptions of Mt St Helens (1980) and El Chichón (1982) released 1 million and 7 million of SO2, respectively, even though they had lower plume heights, of 24km and 29km, respectively. Both were documented as VEI 5s.

Still, it is likely that Tonga’s volcanic eruption will impact global temperatures, and a colder upcoming winter across the southern hemisphere is likely. This is the view of Climate scientist Jim Salinger, who said it could take a few months to kick in, but could ultimately lead to a cooling of as much as 0.5C across the likes of Australia and New Zealand, lasting until spring.

Salinger said it would be nothing like after the Pinatubo eruption of 1991, when there were some “very cold and horrible winters”. But in New Zealand, “it would mean that it might be a bit cooler than normal,” he added.

In conclusion, Hunga Tonga’s Jan 15 eruption was not the ‘big one’, it wasn’t that monster VEI 6/7 that cools the planet by 2C and instantly propels us –in combo with an ever-waning sun– into Earth’s next period of global cooling; however…

Is A Larger Eruption Imminent?

Chances are, Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai isn’t quite done yet. The volcano has continued to erupt at a low level since the weekend, and further explosive events are likely over the coming days or weeks. The question is, what does it have left?

Ordinarily, subsequent volcanic eruptions don’t tend to be as powerful as the initial explosion. However, with the collapse of the main caldera –with 95 percent of the original island now destroyed/underwater– and the infiltration of sea water into the magma chamber, Hunga Tonga is throwing volcanologists something of a curve ball.

“The concern at the moment is how little information we have and that’s scary,” said Janine Krippner, a New Zealand-based volcanologist with the Smithsonian Global Volcanism Program. “When the vent is below water, nothing can tell us what will happen next.”

Superheated magma and a huge volume of volcanic gases rose quickly and met the cool seawater, intensifying the explosion, said Raymond Cas, a professor of volcanology at Australia’s Monash University. The fear is, something similar could be setting up again — further eruptions will be intensified by the vast amount of sea water filling the caldera/chamber, building pressure.

It’s a wait and see, though. “Once the volcano is de-gassed, it will settle down,” said American meteorologist, Chris Vagasky. But we don’t know if we’re there yet. Referring again to evidence of Hunga Tonga’s historical mega-eruptions, which appear to occur once every 1000 years, previously in AD 1100 and AD 200, these ancient sequences have always contained multiple high-level explosions over a closely-spaced period; thus, similarly sized –or even larger– eruptions are expected over the coming days/weeks/months/years — your guess is as good as mine… all eyes on Tonga.

Volcanic Tsunami

Hunga Tonga’s eruption was a true spectacle, but rarer still was the resulting tsunami.

As explained by NIWA hydrodynamics scientist and tsunami expert Dr Emily Lane, most tsunami are triggered by underwater earthquakes, only about 5 percent of historical tsunamis have been caused by volcanic eruptions,

“We haven’t seen a volcanic tsunami of this magnitude in over 100 years,” said Lane.

“This is pretty much shattering the mould. One of the tricky things about tsunamis is that they happen very infrequently; think about the Japanese tsunami and its predecessor was over 1000 years beforehand. We haven’t seen very many volcanic tsunamis. We’ve certainly never seen a volcanic tsunami that has affected the entire Pacific in this way.”

Hunga Tonga’s eruption triggered a landslide as much of the volcanoes edifice side into the ocean. The landslide had an estimated volume of 0.5km3 — one of the largest in recorded history, with that figure likely to be revised higher.

Lane said the only similar volcanic tsunami event was Indonesia’s Krakatau eruption in 1883, which killed tens of thousands of people and obliterated the island.

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36 Thoughts to “Hunga Tonga Eruption Likely A Small VEI 5, Cooling Implications Explained”

  1. Dallas Schneider

    In the full moon of the setting sun,
    a vision occurred,
    not to be disturbed,
    surely to be lots of fun.
    A circle of Celtic women
    around the bonfire,
    swaying in the wind,
    with a new dance to aspire,
    Hunga Tonga! umph Hunga Tonga! umph
    Hunga Tonga! umph Hunga Tonga! umpn
    Dancing through the night!
    Til the moon went out of sight!
    Hunga Tonga! umph Hunga Tonga! umph
    Hunga Tonga! umph Hunga Tonga! umpn

  2. Laura Fernandez Diaz

    Hola, creo que faltó colocar dónde está ubicado este volcán submarino, al menos no está puesto en las primeras líneas del artículo. Saludos

    1. Noel

      Hola. El volcan se encuentra a unos 2000 km al nord-nordeste de Nueva Zelandia y forma parte de un grupo de islas volcanicas

      1. Anonymous

        Hola, muchas gracias por su indicación, saludos cordiales

  3. Michelle

    The boom from the volcano going off cold be heard in NZ across most of the country
    Concussion wave l think it is called
    No tsunami sirens went off in NZ and many boats were wrecked at one marina and big waves had people rushing for safety
    we couldn’t work out what the noise was until we read about it later

  4. Deb

    More interesting info on the eruption:


    1. Doktor seltsame Liebe

      …or… another very different/interesting hypothesis… a 300 kT Soviet DFWU (don’t *** with us) empirical/tangible message.
      Tonga volcano a NUCLEAR detonation and WARNING to America?



      1. Ultrafart the Brave

        You’re off by a factor of 1,000.

        Mike Adams discussing a Russian nuke is talking 100 MEGATONS up to possibly 300 MEGATONS.

        We’ll know for sure if it was “just” a volcanic eruption if we now have a series of follow-on eruptions over the coming weeks and months.

        Hard to know which possibility is worse.

    2. Deb


      Your Brighteon link (Mike Adams) is both informative and chilling. All the more scary because he is not a fear- monger.

      I wonder if war between the US and Russia is part of the depopulation plan? Sounds like the PTB are turning loose all four Horsemen.

  5. mok.monster

    i cant find any information on earthquakes leading up tot eh eruption – surely there would have been an increasing amount of quakes as the magma rose? And surely this would have allowed people to evacuate beforehand?

    1. DIrk Pitt

      On USGS, switch settings to 30 days and you get:

      Find Tonga, the yellow diamond was the quake, no other quakes. No warning, kaboom. The volcano was already erupting for two weeks this month and THAT should have been the warning to get the frack out.

      Volcano quake:

    2. DIrk Pitt

      The volcano has been erupting since Dec 21 2021, wouldn’t that be warning enough to leave?

      1. mok.monster

        Professor Cronin from Auckland University, NZ, says – There is basically no working seismograph near enough to the volcano to record any signal at all. I have heard that even in Fiji there are no seismic records of any precursors on their sensors.

        This is an unfortunate state of the development of monitoring equipment in most of the SW Pacific

  6. Chris Norman

    Ah Dr Salinger, a figure of some controversy to many of us in NZ.

    See WUWT https://wattsupwiththat.com/2010/10/09/new-zealands-niwa-temperature-train-wreck/

    “it emerged that NIWA had adopted some 34 non-replicable adjustments proposed in 1980 by Salinger, whose calculations had been lost”.

    1. Greg in NZ

      Chris, you beat me to it: slippery old Jim-jam Salinger eh, he of Climategate infamy and other ‘settled science’ shenanigans. These (failed) prophets of warm-mongering doom are now (jumping ship) claiming ‘the volcanoes made it colder, yes, that’s wot done it!’

      And what’s with the other names in the article: Mon-ASH University, Chris Va-GAS-ky… boom boom!

  7. Annette Dawson

    Your post are vital to inform people of where the grand solar minimum is at. Thankyou so much.

  8. Matt Dalby

    http://www.volcanocafe.org is an interesting site for discussions about Hunga-tonga.
    They’re suggesting that the eruption is a high VEI5, possibly a low VEI6, but because the eruption basically destroyed a lot of the magma chamber it won’t be able to build up enough magma to produce another eruption of similar size in the near future.
    Since this eruption could well be the largest since Pinatubo- but not as large as that one- I would make a very rough guess that it will cause slight global cooling (maybe 0.3-0.4 centigrade) for 3 or 4 months, although we probably need to wait another couple of weeks for a more detailed scientific report of the eruption to make anything more than a very rough guess.
    http://www.climatereanalyzer.org is showing a drop in the global temperature anomaly of 0.3 degrees since Friday. I’m not such how much I trust them since their anomalies are based on modelling, which always activates my BS sensor, and if the drop in temperature is real it could just be coincidence or a very short lived effect of the ash blocking out sunlight. On the other hand it could be an early indication of a longer term effect. Only time will tell.

    1. Y.D. Robinson

      If Pinatubo resulted in a global “volcanic autumn” (as opposed to a “volcanic winter” like post-Tambora), then Hunga Tonga – at worst – might result in a “volcanic early autumn” and even then mainly in the Southern Hemisphere.

  9. Martin

    Global Agency Sows Fear With Misinformation
    The World Meteorological Organization (WMO) should immediately retract this flawed study and issue a formal statement publicly correcting the record.

  10. Andrew Stone

    Looks like war is a few days away folks.
    MSM keeping the public calm and uninformed.
    Hal Turner’s site seems to be up to date. If only half of what he claims is accurate we are all in for an extremely unpleasant time very soon.
    This may well be far bigger than Ukraine.
    Get to a store and stock up now.
    Once it hits the fan you probably won’t be able to get into a store. There will be mass panic and huge traffic jams. If you live in a major city you might consider taking a trip far away from the city for a couple weeks, just in case.
    Pray for the world leaders to come to their senses.
    Be safe.

    1. Doktor seltsame Liebe

      … and right along those lines… a possible 300 kT Soviet DFWU (don’t *** with us) empirical/tangible message.
      Tonga volcano a NUCLEAR detonation and WARNING to America?



    2. The_Claret

      Do you have a link to Hal Turner’s site? Can’t seem to find anything other than YouTube vids.

      Strange announcement by the UK government today that Covid passports are being dropped. Must admit, didn’t see this coming. Maybe the Elites have changed tactics and are, after all going down the nuclear war route?

    3. Andrew Stone


      I offer this link as a source of information for critical thinkers. Wouldn’t necessarily hang on his every word, but he has a pretty good batting average.

      Keep thinking for yourself.
      Never, ever, allow anyone to do your thinking for you!

      1. Andrew Stone

        Turner’s idea about the US *possibly* attempting to retake Crimea seems far fetched. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.

        Putin and his minions are great strategists. Some refer to him as an intimidating political bully.

        Navalny (Russian political prisoner) says he cannot believe how many times he has watched Putin act like a schoolyard bully and then watch as the West is once again drawn into his games, backing down.

        What we may be witnessing right now is continued posturing. Neither side wants war (hopefully) but neither side appears ready to back down. In all realistic probability some diplomatic solution will be found to allow both sides to back off without losing face. Pray this occurs before some angry fool throws a lit match into that lake of gasoline.

  11. Deb

    You don’t think a link is warranted, after a statement like that?

    1. Andrew Stone

      You are right. Fair enough.
      Assumed the site was easily found in a search.
      Yup, that ‘ole “assume” thing.
      I know better.
      I was wrong.
      I was so, so wrong.
      Please forgive me? 😉

    2. Andrew Stone

      – Deb
      In all seriousness …
      I do not mean to make light of the situation at all.
      I have a daughter living in one of the top five cities that would certainly be struck.
      I understand human nature pretty well, and so far, this all looks like posturing by two parties that want an alternative to war.

      The American negotiator will be meeting with his counterpart this Friday. I’m 99% sure a means to avoid nuclear war will be announced shortly thereafter.

      In the event of the 1% I’m quite certain Russia will not directly start a nuclear war. Much more likely they will let on that they will install missiles and aircraft in Cuba and Venezuela to elicit their desired response. There are already rumors to that effect.

      Russians are master chess players. They are not in the habit of smashing the board in the middle of a game. The US government likes poker.

      I’m more worried about something going horribly wrong during heated gameplay. That’s a distinct possibility and why I suggest being prepared just in case.

      Both sides love their children.

      1. Deb


        Nice backpedal. I had placed you in the same category with DS, whose unequivocal stance that the USA is splitting down the middle tarnishes his credibilty.

        Puzzling, in light of your earlier assertion that you do not predict future events.

        I don’t seem to find any other mention online of a possible nuclear explosion at Tonga, except for Mike Adams’ podcast on Brighteon, linked by Herr Doktor above. Seems like news like that would be oozing out everywhere.

        As a Christian, I take my marching orders from only one source, and I have heard nothing from Him about heading for the hills at this time. However, I have gotten the word to get my property ready to sell in a couple of years. After that, He’s not saying- yet. Maybe then it will be time to buy a cave, lol.

        Don’t allow yourself to be stampeded by misinformation, which is thick on the ground. Test everything, my friend.

        Sorry about your daughter. Maybe she will come to her senses.

  12. Chaffers

    I’m not sure I buy it…

    So bear in mind that New Zealand’s scientists are about as reliable as a religious text, which their academic papers often closely resemble.

    However the idea that lots of seawater enhanced an explosion I find almost bemusing. Only a small percentage of the Caldera was above water yet it hit 100,000 feet. Some are saying 120,000.

    Water atop the Caldera would dampen any after effects. By what physical mechanism could it enhance them? Steam would be created above the bulk of the magma so wouldn’t propel it, quite the opposite.

    Presumably any instruments on the island itself would have been vaporised so how are they calculating the amount of gas released? Cuck scientists have been trying to downplay the gas emissions from volcanoes for at least 20 years now.

    I suspect if you didn’t know anything else and merely saw this eruption overlaid onto Western Europe, as was widely circulated on social media, you’d think this was a big 6 at least.

    Then again this could be a good thing… As they’ve already downplayed the results in terms of climate impact it’ll be difficult for them to backtrack.

    Which could be very amusing.

    1. Chaffers

      Comparing the satellite SO2 data from windy.com with this old paper which has images of the SO2 cloud from Pinatubo, from the same satellites…


      The current cloud seems to be both bigger and denser than Pinatubo’s. And also ejected higher.

      Can anyone make sense of this?

  13. Andrew Stone

    Backpedal successfully accomplished? 😁

    The site DS got some of his info from (the link you sent) is full of such phrases as “Mother God”, etc. uh, no. Definitely not my cup of tea, to say the least.

    In fact I don’t make future predictions in that sense (“No one knows the hour …”). Anything from me that looks like a prediction is based on my pretty good understanding of human nature.

    The future actions of “sane” people in specific situations are really not much of a mystery. The not so sane are a different story. Who knows what psychic pain motivates them or what “voices” they are listening to. 🤪

    I have no doubt something huge is heading our way. Felt it since I was very young. Exactly what it is, I don’t know. Kind of like you can feel a pressure wave being pushed ahead of a large object coming at you in the dark (best step aside quickly if you can).

    This Ukraine business might be an aspect of that big something but feels more like a more basic, worldly, but awful thing, but not the main event, not yet.

    “There will be wars and rumors of wars.”

    Rest assured I am about the last person you need be concerned about following any herd. And I take my marching orders from the same guy you do.

    We will likely see the 7-year events (at least some of them), very soon.
    A year or two seems about right.

    Nukes might start flying around very soon but the main parties involved right now both know no one will win that contest. I’m counting on their selfish instincts of self preservation.

    Doesn’t mean I’m not going to keep checking the “weather” reports.

    If you have a barn full of things that your life absolutely depends on, and you think something just might catch that barn on fire, you would probably get those items out of the barn and spread them out a bit.
    My hope is that the Navy put all those ships to sea for a similar reason. Those resources are too important to be sitting ducks at anchor in a harbor.
    There is a chance the Russians will launch a preemptive nuke attack on the US and NATO, but that would be incredibly foolish and suicidal, neither of those adjectives seem to apply to the bear.

    1. Deb

      Pls pray spiritual protection for me. Thx.

  14. Andrew Stone

    – Deb
    You got it Sis.

  15. Hal

    Hunga Tonga Volcano Update; Volcano is Erupting, A VEI 6 Caldera Forming Eruption. Larger than Pinatubo and second only to Novarupta. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2TbWskpiY6A&ab_channel=GeologyHub

    1. Y.D. Robinson

      Yeah, I saw that video. And yes, it’s been very recently determined to be a VEI 6 after all, just slightly bigger than Pinatubo in terms of total amount of tephra released. Most of this was submarine, which complicated classifying its magnitude.

      It hasn’t made the headlines to nearly the extent of either COVID or the recent and ongoing war in Ukraine, nor does it have the same immediate and long-term worldwide consequences. If any or all of the following had been the case – 1) the SO2 going mainly into the atmosphere instead of the ocean, 2) the eruption being near the direct paths of many many flights in the fashion of the trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic routes in the northern hemisphere, or 3) much of the ash from the eruption settling onto heavily-populated land rather than water – then it might have been a different story.

      Seems to me that the reasons why Krakatoa in 1883 was so much more noteworthy and destructive on nearby land and with the global climate are that a) it spewed more tephra overall and b) it was further above the water even while being surrounded by water. Hunga Tonga was mainly submarine in nature while Krakatoa was only partly submarine in nature.

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