A submarine volcanic eruption in the Tonga Islands remained visible when the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Terra satellite passed overhead on March 18, 2009. In this image, the eruption appears as a blue-green blur in the ocean water. Overhead, a bright white puff likely results from volcanic vapor. A bank of thick clouds obscures the northeastern portion of the eruption site.
The Tonga Islands occur along the Ring of Fire—a perimeter of heightened volcanic and seismic activity that traces the outline of the Pacific Ocean basin. Undersea eruptions have occurred in this area before, including an eruption in August 2006.