25 Dec 2021

Tonga volcano grows in size as eruption continues for sixth day

2:30 pm on 25 December 2021

Satellite imagery shows the island of Hunga Tonga Hunga Ha'apai has grown in size while the underwater volcano erupts into its sixth day.

A frigate bird flying on the thermals from a new vent as steam and gas rise from the eruption of the Tonga volcano.

File image. Photo: Mary Lyn Fonua / AFP

Tonga's head geologist Taniela Kula has been monitoring the eruption all week, which erupted again this morning.

While observations have had to be kept to a distance, new satellite imagery shows the island's land mass has grown since Monday.

"The island has grown 300-600metres to the eastern side. So it has widened up a bit. [The debris] has been building up the island, building up the rim of the vents," Kula said.

Today's ash clouds had fallen back into the ocean in a 10km radius, he said.

The volcano has an active history, last erupting in 2014/15 and before that in 2009.

In 2015, Tongan government officials said eruptions at Hunga Ha'apai had formed a new island more than a kilometre long, joined to the existing island.

It has reportedly become a home for plants and birds.

More satellite footage will be sent to Kula and his team monitoring the eruption this afternoon.

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