Dramatic video of explosive volcanic eruption with compression wave

volcanic_explosion_papuaHere’s something seldom seen – a volcanic eruption that is so fast and intense that it creates a condensation shock wave in the atmosphere (like is sometimes seen from bombs exploding) along with throwing massive debris into the air that splashes down in the water.

This incredible video was taken by a tourist on a pleasure boat ride. Best viewed full screen (set for HD) with sound on. Watch for the wave to hit the camera!

The eruption of Mount Tavurvur volcano on August 29th, 2014. Captured by Phil McNamara.

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Leon Brozyna
September 6, 2014 11:02 pm

If he were any closer to the eruption, that mild exclamation would’ve been a much more colorful expletive.

Reply to  Leon Brozyna
September 7, 2014 9:31 am

You can tell he reined himself in to avoid the bleeping bleep problem. Also, kudos for having nerves of steel to control his startle reflex when the sound got there.

Brian H
September 6, 2014 11:04 pm

Wonder how high the plug went.

Reply to  Brian H
September 7, 2014 9:36 am

Explosion at 0:12, largest rock impact at 0:29 implies 17 seconds in flight, but started a bit above sea level. Call it 8 seconds in freefall, D=0.5*A*t^2 gives about 310 meters for the peak altitude.

Reply to  rocketplumber
September 10, 2014 11:22 am

That formula only works if the rocks had zero vertical velocity at the time of the explosion. That is untrue by inspection.
Google Earth, incidentally, gives the peak height of that mountain as about 600 feet, or 180m.

Joel O'Bryan
September 7, 2014 12:11 am

Who’s to say this thing can’t pull a Krakatoa? How deep/big is the magma chamber? A jolt like that could open a sea floor crack to the magma chamber, and that would lead to steam explosion that would make the video look like a cap gun.

September 7, 2014 12:22 am

Briiliant footage – thanks for posting this.

September 7, 2014 12:25 am

One of the advantages of everybody trying to film everything that happens. Once in a billion times they actually film something of value.

Reply to  Greg
September 7, 2014 1:34 am

Cant up vote so +1

Mariss Freimanis
September 7, 2014 1:06 am

What the video misses because it’s cut short is the shock wave concussion jostling the camera when it reaches the boat. The boat must have been 3 to 5 miles away from the island; The strength of the shock wave was impressive even at that distance.

Brock Way
Reply to  Mariss Freimanis
September 7, 2014 1:21 am

2.6 miles by my calculations. What I want to see is the video from the other ship.

Reply to  Brock Way
September 7, 2014 6:37 am

12.5 seconds.

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  Brock Way
September 7, 2014 10:34 am

for a second or so the shock wave may have been (likely) supersonic. so your estimate of distance is likely low if you simply divided time to shock passage by speed od sound at SL.

September 7, 2014 1:31 am

Great video, scary but amazing.
Any news yet on Global Warming being responsible – maybe sea level rises have unsettled the low lying region?
In Australia one of our Greenie MSMs ran a poll on Climate Change. They quickly dropped it when 48% disagreed with the Greenie crap.
What Greenies cannot handle is that to be a Sceptic you have to read, understand, evaluate and agree with the Science.
All just anathema to the easily fooled Greens. They thrive on miss & missing information.
Well done to The Australian newspaper, MSM has a moral responsibility and The Australian is actually publishing contrary arguments. Its a shame we get no responsible reporting on the Climate from our nation broadcaster, the ABC. Just ill informed diatribes.

September 7, 2014 1:38 am

Sorry, 46%.

September 7, 2014 1:56 am

I think that trip organiser was just amazing.
I wish I had his contacts.

September 7, 2014 2:53 am

Just amazing! The tour guide sounded like an Aussie, too. May have been an artillery officer as well, like my father in law. He knew what was coming next. I wish we all had that ability.

September 7, 2014 2:54 am

So did anyone ask how the organizer just happened to have his tour group there at that particular, and remarkably fortuitous, moment?
Inquiring minds want to know!

Reply to  William
September 7, 2014 5:41 am


September 7, 2014 3:05 am
Ed Martin
Reply to  ren
September 8, 2014 9:08 am

Somebody must have given Bárðarbunga a testosterone booster. We have shaking and caldera arousal. The old honker might start inflating and erupt.
Cool video, that reminds me, where is my t-booster.

September 7, 2014 3:28 am

“Holy Smokin’ Toledo’s indeed!!

September 7, 2014 3:36 am

Of all the things that the earth does volcanism is the one that creeps me out the worse. Especially the super cauldereas, Yellowstone and the one in Italy in the bay, The bay of Naples.Then there’s Santorini, the one that snuffed the folks that lived was back, the women all ran around topless, the Mycenaean culture. Lake Cuomo in Italy.
My memory isn’t worth spit.
The point that I’m trying to make is that an event a fraction of the size of the Deccan Flats event would pretty much end civilization on this planet. I think that the human race would survive but GreenPeace would for sure get their 500 million number.

September 7, 2014 3:56 am

I think the guy was from MinneSOta…

Björn from Sweden
September 7, 2014 4:45 am

That was a beautiful steam explosion. Now we need to calculate how much, how hot, how much energy, because that is what science nerds do. Is that doable from this video?

September 7, 2014 5:53 am

Of course this was made worse, as predicted, by AGW.

September 7, 2014 6:00 am

It’s the “Missing Heat”,It goes down from the Atmosphere,through the Oceans and into the Earths core,boiling our Planet like a pot of porridge.

Reply to  D.I.
September 7, 2014 6:09 am

…making the Earths core millions of degrees hot!
Yes, I believe you are on to something.

September 7, 2014 6:20 am

I want to know how this guy knew that the thing was about to erupt…???

Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
September 7, 2014 6:41 am

He got a magic coin from Mr. Sid Ense…

James Strom
Reply to  J. Philip Peterson
September 7, 2014 8:30 am

Direct line to Bill Nye?

Philip Mulholland
September 7, 2014 6:35 am

Thanks for the superb video. I will add this to my collection.
See also this aerial view of the Iceland volacano Eyjafjallajökull in 2010 showing visible Shock waves passing through the eruption plume.

Reply to  Philip Mulholland
September 7, 2014 9:27 am

Interesting that in the Icelandic video the shock wave is visible as a momentary *darkening* of the steam clouds- the actual compression phase of the wave heats the air and shrinks the droplets in the pre-existing cloud. In the PnG video, the temporary fog is in the rarefaction zone behind the shock wave. /geek mode

September 7, 2014 7:04 am
Data Soong
September 7, 2014 7:32 am


TImo Soren
September 7, 2014 8:20 am

I want to know why two large ships appear to be at anchor so dang close?

Reply to  TImo Soren
September 8, 2014 3:52 pm

What makes you think they were at anchor?

September 7, 2014 8:45 am

Another volcano another fascinating image
“This is pretty hot stuff. A swirling 1-kilometre-high tornado of gas has been caught emerging from the lava pouring out of a fissure on Iceland’s Bardarbunga volcano. The image was captured on 3 September by an infrared camera designed for aircraft, to let pilots see volcanic ash clouds”

John ;0)
September 7, 2014 9:20 am

Outstanding video, would have been great to be there in person ;0)

September 7, 2014 10:04 am

Actually shock waves from volcanic blasts are not so terribly rare. You can watch some interesting footage from around the world if you go to YouTube and search on “volcano shock wave”…

September 7, 2014 11:10 am

There was an extreme shock wave from Mt. St. Helens. I heard it in my house 100 miles north and thought a 747 had overflown me at 200 feet. I went out on the porch and saw neighbors looking around and wondering “what the heck?”

September 7, 2014 5:45 pm

Anthony, typo? wrong word?
“Here’s something seldom seen – a volcanic eruption that is so fast and intense that it creates a condensation shock wave …”
Shouldn’t that be “compression shock wave”?
It certainly is a most impressive eruption! The rocks flying in the first moments are impressive, most impressive.

Reply to  pwl
September 18, 2014 7:59 pm

I would think that every volcanic eruption creates a compression wave. The condensation shock wave is the wave of fog above the eruption.

September 8, 2014 12:09 am

Dummy’s question:
Would that event have released much CO2?

Reply to  Questing Vole
September 8, 2014 3:54 pm

Some, but remember, it was a steam explosion so much worse than you thought.

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