INDIANAPOLIS – A volcanic eruption in the South Pacific on Saturday was detected almost 7,100 miles away, right here in Indiana. 

This eruption devastated the island and several surrounding islands. Tonga is comprised of 169 islands, 36 are inhabited. 

An enormous amount of heat and energy was released from this volcano, and hundreds of thousands of lightning strikes were recorded and can be seen from videos of the eruption. Professor Mike Hamburger, a professor of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Indiana University, describes this violent eruption as a once in a millennium sized eruption for this volcano. “It was large on a planetary scale. The heat and energy released were so large that the impacts were felt here locally in Indiana.” 

Shock waves from the eruption traveled and are still traveling across the world. While the ground didn’t shake here locally, a change in air pressure has been detected not once but four times as the waves continue to bounce back and forth. Watch the wave of red and orange travel across the lower 48 states.

Professor Hamburger said that this can occur several times. “This is very typical in the seismology world when these surface waves that travel around the surface of the Earth travel one way and then they travel the other way and then they circle around and sometimes for a large earthquake.” 

The Bloomington seismograph did detect seismic activity, which is over 7000 miles (about twice the width of the United States) away! 

Air pressure changes were also detected across Indiana. In the image below, the sharp dip around 9 a.m. central time is the shock wave being detected. This graph is from South Bend, Indiana.