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Volcanic Advisory 5

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Summary
17 January 2015 The volcanic eruption between Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai, 65 km from Nuku'alofa, continues, but activity is a little less than in recent days, and probably quite a lot less than a week or two ago.

We visited the site of the erupting volcano in the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai region on January 17 on board the VOEA Neiafu.
The eruption is continuing from the new island that started growing a month ago. During most of our time near the island, strong emission of steam to heights of 7 – 10 km was observed, but with only limited amounts of ash. Later, some eruptions that threw dense, wet ash and small rocks 200-300m into the air, accompanied by further strong emissions of steam were observed.

Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai islands were covered by ash from the eruption over the last month. The eruptions observed today were too small to deposit ash on those islands, suggesting that the eruptions a week or two ago were probably substantially stronger than those observed today.
No trace of rafts of pumice or other floating volcanic debris was observed. No strong smells of volcanic gases were noticed within 2NM of the site, it was noticed however 15-25NM on the way to the site.

The style of this eruption is similar to that at Hunga Ha’apai in 2009, but the volume of material erupted this time is much greater.

Introduction
This is the fifth advisory of the volcanic activity over Tonga. The advisories had been based on collective information provided by Tonga Broadcasting Commission, Tonga Meteorological Services, Tonga Airport Limited, Real Tonga Airlines, Volcanic Ash Advisory Centre (VAAC, Wellington), GNS-NZ, His Majesty’s Armed Force, National Emergency Management Office, and Tonga Volcano Advisory Centre. The content of this edition is largely based on the site observation conducted on the 17th January 2015 sponsored by the New Zealand High Commission.

Eruption Location
The eruption is occurring between Hunga Ha'apai and Hunga Tonga, 65 km NW of Vuna Wharf, Nuku’alofa, and ~70km SW of Nomuka Island.

Eruption Observations
Images taken of the eruptions on January 17 from on board the VOEA Neiafu.

Volcanic Ash Forecasting and Airline Flights
Pilots have reported steam plumes from the Hunga Ha'apai and Hunga Tonga area, but substantial ash emission to the altitudes at which aircraft fly have not been observed for several days. Our observations confirm that this is continuing.

International and domestic flights have operated without interruption in the last few days.

Conclusion
The eruption of ash from the new island between Hunga Ha'apai and Hunga Tonga continues, but our observations today suggest the activity is probably less than a week or two weeks ago.

The next advisory will be issued when more information becomes available.

Contact & Further information
For further information contact the National Volcano Advisory Center of the Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources at Telephone 25508 or Email: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Last Updated ( Thursday, 22 January 2015 11:55 )  

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