A Volcano, an Asteroid and an Iceberg


AP Images/Christopher Szumlanski

Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai erupted mid January leaving devastation across the surrounding islands.

Jon Rose, Photo Editor

  A volcano-turned-tsunami, a near-miss asteroid and a doomsday iceberg, sounds like the end of the world, or the beginning of a bad joke. In the past few weeks, all of these events have made headlines and it’s certainly an odd number of potential and real natural disasters.

   In Tonga, a Polynesian kingdom made up of over 170 islands in the Indian Ocean, an un-derwater volcano called “Hunga-Tonga-Hunga-Ha’apai” erupted on Jan 15. This caused an extremely large tsunami to completely take over parts of surrounding islands, including Tonga’s capital, Nuku’alofa. The waves of the volcano were so powerful, they made it to the west coast of the United States. No mass casualties in Tonga have been confirmed, but the waves that made it to Peru have already left two deceased. The ash over Tonga is lingering, along with all the water damage to homes and businesses. The air is currently contaminated, and it is assumed their drinking supply is as well.

   Next on our list of scary natural events, NASA has stated an asteroid, known as “7482 (1994 PC1)” will be closest to earth it ever will be for the next 200 years; it is set to pass by the earth at 3:51 AM CST on Jan 18. It is said to be traveling at a speed of around 43,754 mph. The asteroid is approximately 3,541 feet, over twice the size of the Empire State Building. Planetary Defense experts at NASA have confirmed it will miss earth and not affect our gravity in anyway.

   An iceberg called Thwaites Glacier in Antarctica, roughly the size of Florida, recently got new research, where scientists learned it could collapse by the end of the decade, if it did, it could cause a deadly chain of events across the world. Ted Scambos, a scientist at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, says “The glacier in its entirety holds enough water to raise sea level by over two feet. And it could lead to even more sea-level rise, up to ten feet, if it draws the surrounding glaciers with it.” The rising sea level could flood major cities including Shanghai, New York, Tokyo, Miami. The borders of continents around the world will be rewritten.

   It’s the end of the world as we know it – or not. Either way, there has been a strange number of scary, population-threatening events recently, and there is not much we can do besides being aware.