By Sonja Behnke
Just beneath the surface of the South Pacific Ocean lies the Hunga volcano. Part of the Tonga archipelago and north of Tonga’s main island Tongatapu, Hunga lies in a very active seismic zone and has erupted four times since 1988, most recently in 2022.
The latest eruption caused a tsunami wave nearly 150 feet high that hit nearby uninhabited islands and waves over six feet tall that reached the coast of Peru. One of the largest volcanic explosions recorded since the Krakatau eruption in 1883, it produced atmospheric shockwaves that were measured as far as Europe.
These kinds of effects are commonly associated with volcanic eruptions, but Hunga added another, lesser known, feature: lightning.
Hunga produced a massive, water-rich ash plume that reached the stratosphere and generated the most intense lightning flash rates ever detected. How is it that an ash plume—not a thunderstorm — produced the most lightning ever detected?
Read the rest of the story as it appeared in RealClear Science.