Mapping the Tongan eruption

The January eruption of the Tongan volcano Hunga Tonga – Hunga Ha’apai triggered tsunamis as far away as the Caribbean. NIWA scientists are onboard RV Tangaroa surveying the ocean around the volcano, working to understand the largest eruption of its kind since 1981 so they can help increase our knowledge about similar volcanoes around the world.

Mapping the Tongan volcano eruption of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai

This important scientific voyage represents a significant opportunity to map the changes in the seafloor and collect samples to understand how the geology, biogeochemistry, and ecosystem health has been impacted. Up until the eruption on 15th January, the volcano caldera sat approximately 150 m below sea level and part of the volcano connected the islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai. Following the eruption, the islands are smaller and no longer joined together. The scientists are surveying thousands of square kilometres of the seafloor and collecting video images of the eruption’s impact, and using SEA-KIT International’s Uncrewed Surface Vessel (USV) Maxlimer to conduct further mapping. The NIWA-Nippon Foundation Tonga Eruption Seabed Mapping Project (TESMaP) is funded by The Nippon Foundation and also supported by The Nippon Foundation-GEBCO Seabed2030 Project which aims to map the world’s ocean floor by 2030. Follow the voyage here: