30 Sep 2022
30 Sep 2022

The 2022 Tonga Volcanic Tsunami: Lessons from a Global Event

Adam T. Devlin1,2,3,4, David A. Jay5, Stefan A. Talke6, and Jiayi Pan1,4,7 Adam T. Devlin et al.
  • 1School of Geography and Environment, Jiangxi Normal University; Nanchang, Jiangxi, China
  • 2Cooperative Institute for Marine and Atmospheric Research, School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; Honolulu, HI, United States of America
  • 3Department of Oceanography, University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa; Honolulu, HI, United States of America
  • 4Institute of Space and Earth Information Science, Chinese University of Hong Kong; Shatin, Hong Kong, China
  • 5Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Portland State University; Portland, OR, United States of America
  • 6Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, California Polytechnic State University; San Luis Obispo, CA, United States of America
  • 7Key Laboratory of Poyang Lake Wetland and Watershed Research of Ministry of Education; Nanchang, China

Abstract. The January 15, 2022, Tonga eruption provides a rare opportunity to understand global tsunami impacts of explosive volcanism, including "air-shock” tsunamis induced by Lamb waves travelling in the atmosphere, and to evaluate future hazards. The propagation of the air-shock and oceanic tsunami components were analyzed using globally distributed 1-min measurements of air pressure and water level (tide gauges and deep-water buoys). Oceanic tsunamis (up to 1.7 m) propagated primarily throughout the Pacific, but air-shock tsunamis arrived first and traveled globally, producing water-level perturbations in the Indian Ocean, the Mediterranean, and the Caribbean. The air-shock induced water level response of most Pacific Rim gauges was amplified, likely related to bathymetric processes. The air-shock repeatedly boosted tsunami wave energy as it circled the planet several times. In some locations, the air-shock was amplified as much as 35X relative to inverse barometer by Proudman resonance and topographic effects. Thus, a large volcanic air-shock (10–30 mb) could cause a 3.5–10 m near-field tsunami that would occur in advance of (usually) larger oceanic tsunami waves, posing an additional hazard to local populations. Present tsunami warning systems do not consider this threat.

Adam T. Devlin et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-925', Anonymous Referee #1, 27 Oct 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-925', Anonymous Referee #2, 05 Dec 2022

Adam T. Devlin et al.

Data sets

Data for "The 2022 Tonga Volcanic Tsunami: Lessons from a Global Event" submitted to Ocean Science, September, 2022 Devlin, A. T. Jay, D. A., Talke, S. A., Pan, J.

Video supplement

Movie S4 Adam T. Devlin

Movie S3 Adam T. Devlin

Movie S2 Adam T. Devlin

Movie S1 Adam T. Devlin

Adam T. Devlin et al.


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Short summary
Air-shock tsunamis are global with impacts dependent on local topography. In some instances, the impacts of an air-shock tsunami may occur where the oceanic tsunami is not present. Tsunami warning systems do not consider air-shock waves which can arrive first and may be 3.5–10 m for a large volcanic eruption at locations with ideal topographical or bathymetric conditions. We here analyzed this event using high-frequency tide gauge data along with deepwater buoys and air pressure gauges worldwide.