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The world was awestruck when Tonga Volcano triggered seafloor debris and created a stampede. Tonga’s underwater volcano, Hunga-Tonga Hunga-Ha’apai, erupted in a spectacle of record-breaking proportions. The consequences of this remarkable event have extended far beyond the initial eruption, as scientists have now revealed. This article delves into the seismic impact and extraordinary aftermath of the Tonga Volcano-triggered seafloor debris that raced across the ocean at unprecedented speeds.
Scientists recorded the fastest underwater flows ever documented after the eruption. These “density currents” of rock, ash, and mud surged across the ocean floor at astonishing speeds of up to 122km/h (75mph). To put this into perspective, these currents, while submerged, moved with the same power and density as a snow avalanche on a mountain. The result: a profound disruption beneath the ocean’s surface.
The colossal power of these underwater flows had real-world consequences as Tonga Volcano triggered seafloor debris. They snapped long sections of telecommunications cables, severing Tonga’s vital link to the global internet. The domestic cable, located just 50km from Hunga-Tonga, succumbed within 15 minutes of the eruption, while the international cable, 70km away, followed suit approximately an hour later. This disruption not only underscores the formidable force of the volcano but also highlights the vulnerabilities in global communication infrastructure.
Understanding the trajectory and impact of this unprecedented event required meticulous scientific investigation. Researchers, led by the UK’s National Oceanography Centre, embarked on a journey to map and measure the seafloor deposits. Through surveys and sampling, they pieced together the story of how this dense, high-speed flow wreaked havoc on the cables.
This incident, where Tonga Volcano triggered seafloor debris, carries significant implications for the global submarine cable network. Over 99% of all data traffic between continents relies on these connections, including crucial financial transactions amounting to trillions daily. As the cables often traverse regions with underwater volcanoes, bolstering their resilience and ensuring the availability of repair cables has become paramount.
The Tonga eruption is a stark reminder of the necessity for improved seafloor mapping. As Dr. Isobel Yeo emphasizes, “We don’t know what’s out there, and what we do know, we don’t monitor.” The energetic flows left deep scars on the volcano’s flanks, indicating that such explosive events may be more common than previously thought.
The Tonga Volcano triggered seafloor debris during the eruption, with its record-breaking underwater flows have left an indelible mark on the field of earth sciences, global communications, and infrastructure resilience. It is a testament to the remarkable power of nature and the importance of continued exploration and preparedness in our ever-connected world. Reflecting on this extraordinary event underscores the need for a deeper understanding of the seafloor and the ongoing efforts to safeguard our global networks.