South Pacific Underwater Volcano Erupts Causing Blue Ocean To Turn Blood Red

| by Karen Eisenberg

The Daily Mail reports that the Tonga-Hunga Ha'apai volcano is erupting 65 kilometers north west of the South Pacific capital, Nuku'alofa. For the first time in 5 years, on Dec. 20, the volcano began erupting from 2 vents, one on shore, and one underwater, causing the island to grow in size. 

According to the ministry, the volcano erupts every 5 minutes and reaches a height of 400 meters. The ministry said in a statement that 'the new island is more than one kilometer wide, two kilometers long and about 100 meters high.’ Rocks and wet ash are deposited from the eruptions, killing surrounding vegetation, and triggering a new island to form.  The landscape has undergone a complete makeover. 

The part of the volcano which is erupting underwater is causing a red tide, or more scientifically, algal bloom, which turns the blue ocean water blood red. The Daily Mail reports that an algal bloom occurs when there is a sudden increase in the amount of algae in water.

In the past few weeks, ash from the volcano had been spewing so high into the air that airliners had to cancel their flights. The Guardian reports Air New Zealand and Fiji Airlines were both forced to turn flights around.  The volcano was sending ash up to 4,500 meters into the air.

Residents of Tonga are amazed by the spectacular eruptions spewing from the volcano. Many take photos and upload to social media sites such as Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using hashtags: #AlgaeBloom #TONGA. It is truly a magnificent sight.

Sources: Daily Mail; The Guardian

Photo:  theestlers.blogspot