Updates to Maps of Historical Earthquakes, Tsunami and Volcanic Eruptions

Significant Earthquakes 2150 B.C. to A.D. 2022 (NOAA/NCEI)

Every two years or so, NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information updates poster maps based on its Global Historical Tsunami, Significant Earthquake and Significant Volcanic Eruption databases; the 2022 editions are now available. The posters, made in collaboration with the International Tsunami Information Center, are distributed to emergency response personnel; they provide a historical overview of where earthquakes or eruptions took place, or tsunami originated, going back literally millenia. The maps can be downloaded in PDF format: Significant Earthquakes 2150 B.C. to A.D. 2022, Tsunami Sources 1610 B.C. to A.D. 2022, and Significant Volcanic Eruptions 4360 B.C. to A.D. 2022.

The Rise and Fall of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai

A storymap from Esri’s Robert Waterman, based on Maxar satellite imagery, shows the rise and fall of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha‘apai from being two separate islands before a 2015 eruption combined them, through its time as an apparently stable but awkwardly compound-named single island until it got blown apart last month.

Previously: Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After.

Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, Before and After

Two maps showing Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai before and after the volcanic eruption of January 2022
NASA Earth Observatory/Joshua Stevens; data courtesy of Dan Slayback/NASA/GSFC.

NASA Earth Observatory has released digital elevation maps of Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai both before and after the volcanic eruption earlier this month.

The digital elevation maps above and below show the dramatic changes at Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha‘apai, the uppermost part of a large underwater volcano. It rises 1.8 kilometers (1.1 miles) from the seafloor, stretches 20 kilometers (12 miles) across, and is topped by a submarine caldera 5 kilometers in diameter. The island is part of the rim of the Hunga Caldera and was the only part of the edifice that stood above water.

Now all of the new land is gone, along with large chunks of the two older islands.

Mapping Disasters in America

The Washington Post maps disasters in the United States, with a page that shows maps of flood warnings, tornadoes and hurricanes, extreme heat and cold (see above), wildfires, lightning, and earthquakes and volcanoes. In the wake of a natural disaster there’s usually someone suggesting that the victims are at fault for living in a disaster zone. The WaPost’s maps have an answer to that: “It turns out there is nowhere in the United States that is particularly insulated from everything.”

Mapping the 2018 Kīlauea Eruption

Last week new lava vents opened in the Kīlauea volcano’s eastern rift zone, with fissures destroying a number of homes in the Leilani Estates subdivision of the island of Hawai‘i’s Puna District. Here are some maps.


The Washington Post’s coverage is typically first rate, its maps providing both detailed coverage and context: start there. More detailed maps come from the Kīlauea section of the USGS’s Volcano Hazards Program website, with fissure maps of the entire eastern rift zone (see above) and thermal maps of the Leilani Estates fissures receiving daily or near-daily updates.

The eruption was preceded and accompanied by a number of earthquakes; NOAA has created an animated map showing the incidence, magnitude and depth of the earthquakes that took place during the week of the eruption.