January 5 Business Meeting Report

by Andy Thompson, MSDC Secretary

Satellite image showing a plume of smoke rising from Hunga Tonga-Hunga Haʻapai days before its eruption.
The Hunga Tonga–Hunga Haʻapai volcanic island as it appeared prior to the massive eruption on 15 January. Photo by Planet Labs PBC/EYEPRESS/Shutterstock

Ken Reynolds, President of MSDC, called the meeting to order and thanked everyone for coming. In particular he singled out for their service three of the club’s former presidents who were in attendance.  He also welcomed everyone to the MSDC’s first meeting of the new year.

Geology in the News

Ken asked if there were any geology-related events to report. The Hunga Tonga underwater volcanic eruption became the focus of discussion. Tonga is a kingdom of 176 Polynesian islands located in the South Pacific, about 1500 miles northwest of New Zealand. This underwater volcano had erupted on December 21, 2021 and spurts of activity continued for the following weeks. Known as the Hunga Tonga volcano, it is located about 40 miles North of Tonga’s main island, Tongatapu.

On January 15, 2022, after the MSDC meeting, Saturday evening local time, the volcano exploded and sent plumes of smoke 100,000 feet high, three times higher than the altitude of commercial flights. It also caused a tsunami of about 3 to 4 feet in height which reached the California coast.

The eruption blanketed the country with ash and produced tsunami waves up to 50 feet high. Photo by Tonga Geological Services via Reuters

With no further business to discuss, Ken called for a motion to close the meeting, which motion received unanimous consent. He turned the meeting over to Cindy to introduce the evening’s presenter.