Tonga erupts!

Tonga erupts!

Tonga erupts!

Bad Astronomy
The entire universe in blog form
March 19 2009 7:00 PM

Tonga erupts!

The Big Picture has a great series of photos of a recent eruption from an undersea volcano near Tonga, located a few hundred kilometers southeast of Fiji.

Tonga eruption

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  

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Yikes!

This afternoon an earthquake in the region triggered a brief tsunami warning that blew over. It may very well be that a small tremor a few days ago is what triggered this eruption, too.

In case you ever wonder just how much energy is involved even in a small blast, consider this: the plume of ash and rock goes up several hundred meters. OK, go outside and find a rock that masses about 10 kilos. Now climb a flight of steps with it and see how tired you get. Now imagine climbing 100 flights of stairs with it.

Now imagine doing that with, say, a million of those rocks. That's how much energy it takes to blast the plume into the sky.

Never misunderestimate planet Earth. There's a lot of energy just sitting there under our feet, and sometimes it struggles free.