Photos: Massive ash cloud in Tonga volcano eruption

A massive cloud of ash spewed into the sky by a volcanic eruption in Tonga has been captured in a series of photos.

The series showing the ongoing eruption about 63km north of Nuku'alofa was released by the Tongan Government this afternoon.

Dense ash is shown erupting to a height of about 400m, accompanied by some large rocks. Steam from the eruption has risen more than 1km high, Government advisories say.

The eruption has created a new 1km-wide, 2km-long and 100m-high island between the existing islands of Hunga Tonga and Hunga Ha'apai.

A crew of New Zealand scientists are planning to head out on a naval vessel to observe the eruption tomorrow.

GNS volcanologist Nico Fournier says the Kiwis are there to help their Tongan colleagues analyse the volcanic activity.

"We'll remain at a very safe distance, so probably around five kilometers away, maybe 10 kilometers away depending on the activity," he says.

"We'll make a judgment call, but we won't get too close."

See the photos below:

Dark clouds of ash erupt from a volcano located 70 kilometres from the capital Nuku'alofa. Source: 1 NEWS


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