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Tonga

The Pacific’s newest island

Tonga is getting a new island as the Home Reef volcano erupted again this week. Eruption events have increased over the last 24 hours sending steam vents at least one kilometre into the atmosphere.

Tonga Geological Services reported that a volcanic submarine island has re-emerged ten metres above sea level and continues to grow larger, from one acre to nearly six acres in five days.

Tonga Geological Services has maintained an alert for the area with restricted zones for six km around the area.

“The volcano activity poses low risks to the aviation community and the residents of Vava’u and Ha’apai. All mariners are advised to sail beyond four kilometres away from Home Reef until further notice,” said the authority in a statement

TGS said the Home Reef volcano last erupted at 2:48am local time, on September 17, following increasing activity in the previous 24 hours. There has been no volcanic ash detected.

Home Reef. Picture Tonga Geological Services
Tonga is getting a new island as the Home Reef volcano erupted again this week. Eruption events have increased over the last 24 hours sending steam vents at least one kilometre into the atmosphere. Picture: Tonga Geological Services

They have been monitoring steam eruptions over the last eight days, from the Home Reef volcano which is located 25 kilometres south west of Late Island, in the western active Tofua chain on the Tonga Ridge.

“The eruption events had increased in the last 24 hours to 11 events compared to two events in the previous 24 hours, thus a total of 13 eruptions in the last 48 hours,” TGS stated.

The re-emergence of Home Reef was confirmed by the Sentinel-2 Satellite at 1:59pm last Saturday. The location is 22km northeast of Lateiki, 90km northwest of Ha’ano Island and 75km northwest of Mo’unga’one Island in the Ha’apai Group.

Map showing the Home Reef where volcanic eruptions have been happening. Picture: Tonga Geological Services
Map showing the Home Reef where volcanic eruptions have been happening. Picture: Tonga Geological Services

“The island has grown from 70m diameter on 10 September to 170m diameter on 15 September, with an increase in area from 1 acres to 5.6 acres in five days, with an estimated height of 10m above sea level,” TGS said.

Volcanic eruptions in any form are causing a lot of anxiety in Tonga following the eruptions in January which brought about tidal waves and damaged much of Tonga.

The government has calmed down the people in Tonga following concerns that there would be tidal waves generated causing a natural disaster like the one that happened in January.

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