Space Volcanoes

Late last night, an underwater volcano blew up off the coast of the Island of Tonga. This morning, while listening to my favorite radio show, I learned that areas just north of us were under tsunami warning.

I immediately wanted to learn more. Tsunamis are terrifying for their power and fascinating in that they are the destructive ricochet of an event that happened half a world away and a reminder that we are connected in complicated ways.

I quickly learned that a Japanese weather satellite had captured the event from space. Not only that, but you can download and view the video from the comfort of your own home. Here’s a gif I made of it happening:

Tonga eruption captured from Himawari satellite

I have so many emotions wrapped up in this short gif. We live in an era where there is a machine hurtled into space by another country and I can access its imagery from my lap while sipping a coffee. People shit on the internet all the time and what is has done to society but this is unreal in my mind.

And this event reminds me of how small people are in the world. Look at that shockwave. It is going thousands of miles within minutes. People in New Zealand heard the eruption; looking at this you can see way.

Finally, the scale of all of this is dehumanizing and near impossible to comprehend. This eruption is undoubtedly a very bad day for many people and may set back some communities by months/years depending on how this plays out. And simultaneously it is abstract when it appears as a looping gif on your mobile device.

We live in an amazing world (not amazing in the sense of always good but in the sense of always able to remind you that things are much more complicated than you thought). Today’s eruption reminded me of that once more.