VIDEO: Boater Catches Explosive Volcanic Eruption, Startling Sonic Boom on Camera

By By Courtney Spamer, Meteorologist
September 11, 2014, 8:15:15 AM EDT

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Mount Tavurvur, a volcano in Papua New Guinea, erupted on Aug. 29, spewing ash and causing a shock wave and resultant sonic boom.

While in a boat near the New Guinea coast, Phil McNamara caught a rare sight, the initial explosion of a volcano. Mount Tavurvur is known as a rather active volcano, one that caused many deaths and covered a nearby town in ash in 1994.

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Although a smaller eruption in comparison, the recent August explosion captured on video is a rare, close-up look.

Following the explosive eruption, a shock wave emanated from the blast.

"The volcanic blast set off a shock wave, in which the air is instantaneously compressed then decompressed, radiating outward," AccuWeather Meteorologist Jim Andrews said. "What results is instantaneous warming, then cooling, of the air. It is the cooling that causes the very fleeting visible cloud of water droplets as the wave propagates through moist tropical air."

A sonic boom, accompanying the shock wave, startled the people on the boat. The sonic boom occurred as the pressure wave traveled through the air faster than the speed of sound.


Content contributed by AccuWeather Meteorologist Meghan Evans.

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