A large undersea volcano which has been erupting for days near Tonga, sending columns of smoke and ash thousands of feet into the sky above the Pacific Ocean, is to be investigated by boffins to see if world climate will be affected.
The spectacular plumes are erupting from the ocean about six or seven miles
(10 – 12 km) off the coast of the main island of Tongatapu, near the
low-lying twin volcanic islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai.
The eruption can be seen clearly from the capital, Nuku’alofa, although
residents only reported seeing columns of smoke rising from the sea on
Wednesday, two days after it is believed to have begun.
Locals described it as a cloud of ash visible above the waterfront.
Nuku’alofa resident Mary Fonua said the eruption appeared to have increased
in size during Wednesday.
On Thursday, trade winds were blowing gas and steam away from
the island, although large amounts of pumice thrown up by the volcano would
probably soon line beaches on the southern coast of nearby Fiji said Mr Mafi
Tonga, a 170-island archipelago about halfway between Australia and Tahiti,
is part of the Pacific “ring of fire” ? an arc of earthquake and volcanic
zones where continental plates in the earth’s crust collide.