Rumbling Sounds Startle Alaskans At 3:30 am: They Came From A Volcano In The South Pacific, 6,000 Miles Away

Far-Away Tonga & Alaska Are Both In "That Burning Ring Of Fire" Volcanic rock on the island atoll of Ono-i-Lau, Fiji. Once kno...

Far-Away Tonga & Alaska Are Both In "That Burning Ring Of Fire"

Volcanic rock on the island atoll of Ono-i-Lau, Fiji. Once known as "Ono-i-Tonga," this island is very close to the site of the recent eruption. (Photo, Linda Weld) 

Alaska is part of the volatile volcanic "ring of fire" that circles the Pacific. As such, volcanoes, earthquakes and tsunamis often are tied to each other. 

This relationship of places along the Pacific Rim was very obvious on Saturday, January 15th, 2022. An undersea volcanic eruption in the Polynesian island kingdom of Tonga the day before had triggered tsunami alerts around the Pacific, including Alaska. 

But something that was totally unexpected happened early on Saturday morning in Alaska. Seven hours after the eruption, noise generated by the sonic wave of the undersea explosion reached Alaska at 3:30 am. People across the state who were awake at the time heard a half an hour of unexplained bangs and booms and rumblings. Alaska is  6,000 miles across the Pacific from Tonga. 

A story in the Anchorage Daily News reported that such sounds were commonly heard by machines, but rarely with the human ear. It took 7 hours for the sounds to reach Anchorage, at the trave
l speed of 830 mph. 

People reported the sound was like cannons, blasting, winds, slamming doors and target practice, reported the Daily News. For those who were awake at that time it was unnerving. 

In October, 2013, Robert Marshall of Tazlina told the Copper River Country Journal about the Copper Valley's own, personal volcano: Mt. Wrangell. 

"It used to smoke all the time," he said. "Around the 30s, it used to smoke quite a bit; it was normal. In 1917 was when it threw dust all over the area," he said. "It blew dust right out the top, and right over here, too."

He added, "My mother used to say there was a half inch of dust all over the ground. It threw rocks. They picked some rocks up that time, 1917... It threw the rocks to Chitina. 

"Even when I was a kid my mom used to show us rocks that came from Wrangell Mountain. When we was a kid it used to smoke really bad. Then it quit. I don't know why…"


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