Tongan geologists baffled by theory the new island eruption linked to red tides

    The nearly simultaneous occurrence of red tides and powerful volcanic eruptions in Tonga since December 2014 leaves geologists in Tonga looking for answers.

    A new volcanic island with an approximate size of  2 square kilometres and 100 metres in height has been created after a powerful volcanic eruption between the Hungas sent a plume of large ash high into the sky.

    The ongoing eruptions of the Ha’apai volcanoes were first reported on December 20, 2014.

    Yesterday Tongan authorities released photos with captions of the island forming, showing billowing smoke  steam and ash as well as rocks spewed out from a crater between Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai.

    Red tides

    Red tides were first reported in Neiafutahi and the outer islands of Okoa and ‘Oloʻua in Vavaʻu on December 28, 2014. Tongan geologists at the time said they noticed something similar to “oil slick” floating on top of the red tides.

    The red tides had struck Tongatapu and ‘Eua Island this week with reports of dead fish washed ashore as well as strong smell being sent from the scenes.

    Tonga’s Ministry of Fisheries said the red tides in Vava’u were caused by a bloom of reddish-brown algae that had been grown out of control. The Ministry’s director, Dr Vailala Matoto said the algae was microscopic and it could hardly be seen by naked eyes.

    He said it was normal that this type of algae released chemical compounds that give off an ocean smell at the same time sent oxygen gas into the environment.

    Changing the ocean colour into red or green, red tides could happen in summer time and sometimes because of the climate changes, Dr Matoto said.

    But this week some theorists related red tides in Tongatapu and ʻEua Island to the Hungas’ volcanic activity saying the gases it released changed ocean colours into red blood sea.

    While New Zealand geologists and scientists were  in Tonga to study the volcanic eruptions a statement from Tonga’s Ministry of Land & Natural Resources says they have yet to conclude if there was a connection between the red tides and the Hungas’ volcanic  activities.

    “It is unclear at this stage if there is any relationship between the eruption and a red algal bloom observed in seawaters around Tonga recently,” Geologist Taniela Kula said in the statement.

    New Island:

    Mr. Kula said: “A new island has been built by the eruption between the existing islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha’apai, and is now joined to Hunga Ha’apai.”

    He said the ash deposited close to the vents was large enough to build up the newborn island of “more than 1 km wide, 2km long and about 100 m high.”

    “During our observations the volcano was erupting about every 5 minutes,” he said.

    “Dense ash was being erupted to a height of about 400 m, accompanied by some large rocks.

    “Higher we observed mostly steam, but with some ash. Above about 1000 m, the eruption plume was almost exclusively steam.

    “As the ash is very wet, most is being deposited close to the vent, building up the new island,” Kula said.

    In a Daily Mail report this week headlined – Fire in the South Pacific: Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupts to turn the sea blood red and the sky grey with ash – it says “When levels of nitrogen and phosphorus rise, which can be caused by underwater eruptions such as the one off the coast of Tonga, algae can multiply, the report says.

    “Typically, this causes water to turn green, but the effect also causes reds and yellows to be released.

    “In particular, a bloom of dinoflagellate algae causes water to turn blood red in colour”.

    1 COMMENT

    1. Ko e mei liliu taimi taha ʻi Tonga ʻa e tahí ʻo kulokulá mo e lakuʻalofia ʻa ha moʻungaafí talu mei Tisema 2014 kuo hoko ia ke tauvavalo ai e kau siolosisi Tongá pe ko e hā ko ā ha tali ki ai.

      Kuo tupu ha motu moʻungaafi foʻou fakafuofua ki he kilomita sikuea ʻe 2 kae mita ʻe 100 māʻolunga hili ha puhiafi fakatuputupu langi mālohi he vahaʻa ʻo e Ongo Hungá ʻa ia ne mapuna hake ai ha fuʻu efu lahi faufau ki he langilaú.

      Naʻe ʻuluaki līpooti e toutou lakuʻalofia ʻa e moʻungaafi ʻi Haʻapaí ʻi Tīsema ʻaho 20, 2014.

      Naʻe tuku mai ʻaneafi ʻe he kau maʻumafai Tongá ha ngaahi tā mo ha fakamatala he ngaahi ʻata ko iá ha motu foʻou ʻoku lolotonga faʻu pea ʻasi ha mao mo ha efu pehē ki ha maka ʻoku laku hake mei ha foʻi ngotoʻumu he vahaʻa ʻo Hunga Tonga mo Hunga Haʻapaí.

      Kulokula ʻa e tahí:

      Naʻe fua līpooti e liliu ʻo lanu toto kulokula ʻa e tahí ʻi Neiafutahi mo e ongo motu ʻi Vavaʻu ko ʻOloʻua mo Okoa ʻi Tīsema ʻaho 28, 2014. Naʻe pehē ʻe he kau siolosisi ʻa Tongá he taimi koi á ne nau fakatokangaʻi hangē ha loló ʻoku tētē he konga e tahí ne liliu kulokulá.
      Naʻe hake e tahi kulokulá ʻi Tongatapu mo e motu ko ʻEuá he uiké ni pea pehē kuo mate e ika ʻo hake pehē ki he nanamu haʻahaʻa mālohi mei he ngaahi feituʻu koi á.
      Naʻe pehē mei he Potungāue Toutai ʻa Tongá ko e tahi kulokula ne hā ʻi Vavaʻú ne tupu ia mei he hake taʻemataʻofia ʻa e faʻahinga limu pe ʻalakī lanu kulokula palauni. Ne pehē ʻe Dr Vailala Matoto ko e talēkita ia ʻa e Potungāué ko e ʻalakī ko ʻení ʻe toki lava pe ke sio taha ʻo ʻilo ʻo ka fakaʻata ʻaki ha meʻangāue fakaʻata ʻo ha meʻa iiki pe maikolosikōpiki.
      Naʻá ne pehē ʻoku angamaheni pe ki he faʻahinga ʻalakī ko ʻení ke ne tuku ange mai ha kemikale ʻoku lava ke nanamu ai ʻa e tahí taimi tatau ʻokú ne toe tuku ange ki he ʻatākaí ha kasa ʻosikena.
      ʻI heʻene liliu ʻa e lanu ʻo e tahí ke kulokula pe lanumatá, ʻoku faʻa ʻasi ʻa e ʻalakií ʻi he taimi māfaná pea taimi ʻe taha ʻoku faʻa ʻasi tuʻunga he feliuliuaki ʻa e ʻeá, ko e lau ia ʻa Dr Matotó.
      Ka ʻi he uike ní kuo fakafehokotaki ʻe ha kau fokotuʻu fakakaukau e liliu kulokula ʻa e tahí ʻi Tongatapu mo ʻEuá ʻo pehē ko e tupu mei he kasa ne tuku ange mei he puna ko ia ʻa e moʻungaafi ʻi he vahaʻa ʻo e Ongo Hungá.
      Lolotonga ʻoku ʻi Tonga ha kau siolosisi mo saienisi Nuʻu Sila hili e puna ʻa e moʻungaafí kuo tuku mai ʻe he Potungāue Fonuá mo e Koloa Fakanatulá ha fakamatala ʻo pehē ai ʻoku teʻeki lava ken au aofangatuku pe ʻoku i ai ko ā ha felāveʻi ʻa e meʻa ʻoku hoko ki he moʻunga afí mo e liliu kulokula ʻa e tahí.
      Motu Foʻou:
      Ne pehe ʻe Taniela Kula ko e Tokoni Sekelitali mo Siolosisi ʻa e Potungāue Fonua mo e Koloa Fakanatulá ko e motu ko ʻeni kuo fanauʻi foʻoú ne faʻu ia mei he lakuʻalofia ne hoko he vahaʻa ʻo Hunga Haʻapai mo e Hunga Tongá pea ʻoku pipiki ia ki Hunga Haʻapai.
      Naʻá ne pehē ko e efu ko ia ne tātānaki ofi ki he ava ne puhi hake ai e afí ne lahi feʻunga pe ia ke ne foʻu ʻa e motu foʻou ni ʻa ia ʻoku laka hake ʻi he kilomita ʻe taha fālahi kilomita ʻe 2 lōloa pea māʻolunga mita ʻe 100.
      Naʻá ne pehē foki ne lolotonga ʻenau siofi e meʻa ne hokó ne toutou puhi fakaminiti ʻe 5 pe ʻa e moʻunga afí.
      Ne aʻu e mapuna hake ʻa ha efu matolu he feituʻú ni ki he māʻolunga ko e mita ʻe 400, ʻalu fakataha hake mo e ngaahi maka lalahi.
      Ne mei lahi pe e laku ʻa e moʻunga afí ki he mao pē ʻa ia ne aʻu hono māʻolungá ki he mita nai ʻe 1000.
      ʻI ha lipooti foki ʻa e Uepisaiti Daily Mail ʻa ia ne ʻuluʻi ongoongo ʻaki ʻa e pehē – Kuo puna ha afi ʻi he Pasifiki Saute: Lakuʻalofia e moʻungaafi tuʻu ʻi tahi ko Hunga Haʻapaí ʻo ne liliu e tahí ke lanu kulokula pea efua e langí. Naʻe toe pehē he lipooti ko ʻení ʻoku hoko e tupu fakalanulanu ʻa e ʻalakií he taimi ʻoku nau tupu taʻe mataʻofia ai ʻi he vaí.
      Ko e taimi ko ē ʻoku tupulaki ai e kasa fakanatula ko e naitolōsení mo e fosifolasí ʻa ia ʻe lava ke fakatupunga ʻeni ʻe ha puna ʻa e afí mei lalo fonuá ʻo hangē ko ia ne hoko ʻi Tongá ʻe lava ke liuliunga ai ʻa e ʻalakií ia, ko e lau ia ʻa e lipooti ko ʻení.
      ʻOku angamahení ke ne fakatupunga e tahí ke liliu ʻo lanu mata ka ʻoku toe lava ke ne fakatupunga hano tuku mai ha lanu engeenga pe lanu kulokula.
      Ko e meʻa ʻeni ʻoku hoko, ko e taimi ʻoku fakalanulanu ai ʻa e kalasi ʻo e ʻalakií ko e dinoflagellate te ne fakatupunga ʻe ia ha liliu ʻa e tahí ke lanu toto kulokula.

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