‘Ring of Fire’ Volcano Erupts, Unleashing Major Tsunami

Jan 18, 2022

The eruption of a volcano sent a huge cloud of ash, gas, and steam more than 12 miles into the air. The explosion caused a tsunami. It hit the island nation of Tonga. The island is in the South Pacific Ocean.

With most communication lines broken, thousands of Tonga residents awaited news on loved ones on Saturday. The volcano hadn't erupted since 2014.

The 218-mile-wide cloud could be clearly seen from space. The tsunami unleashed huge waves. They caused widespread destruction. Toxins filled the air and polluted water supplies. Authorities urged people to wear masks and drink bottled water. The Red Cross said up to 80,000 people of the nation of 100,000 had been affected. 

High waves damaged boats as far as 8,500 miles away in Santa Cruz, California. No mass casualties had been reported by Monday afternoon. Two people died in Tonga. Two others drowned 10,000 miles away in Peru due to the waves.

New Zealand and Australian officials began to look at the damage Monday. They flew in planes over the sites. The ash had made it impossible to see the island from the sky over the weekend. Overseas, relatives of Tongans set up prayer circles and vigils. They're hoping for the best but fearing the worst.

A second, much smaller eruption of the volcano Monday did not result in a tsunami warning. The volcano lies along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.” That's a series of fault lines where earthquakes and volcanic activity are high. 

Photo from Reuters.

How did a volcanic eruption cause damage to boats 8,500 miles away in Santa Cruz, California? (Common Core RI.5.3; RI.6.3)
Some ash from the eruption came down onto boats in Santa Cruz, California.
The eruption triggered a tsunami that damaged boats in Santa Cruz, California.
The eruption caused an earthquake in Santa Cruz, California.
The eruption triggered eruptions all along the Pacific “Ring of Fire.”
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