Record-Breaking Tonga Volcano Generated Fastest Atmospheric Waves Ever

The massive eruption of the submarine volcano Tonga in the Pacific earlier this year generated an explosion so powerful it sent massive pressure waves through the atmosphere and around the globe. These waves were the fastest ever seen in Earth’s atmosphere, reaching speeds of 720 miles (1,158 kilometers) per hour, according to a new study.

“It was a truly huge and truly unique explosion in terms of what has been observed by science to date,” said study lead author Corwin Wright, a Royal Society University researcher based at the Center for Space, Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Bath in the UK, said in a statement (opens in a new tab). The atmospheric waves triggered by the volcano (opens in a new tab) traveled at unprecedented speeds, “very close to the theoretical limit”, he said.

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