Virtual Volcano Vacation #53 WINNER! – Tofua

tofua island

Tofua Island – Original image found at Pax Gaea

Often when choosing where to hide, I pick a volcano strictly based on curb-appeal, so naturally I was drawn to this pretty little island volcano with its large crater lake and gently smoking fumaroles. But as has been the case several times before, I learned something uniquely interesting about this particular volcano.

Tofua is a volcanic island of the Ha’apai island group in Tonga in the South Pacific. The original stratovolcano cone, like its island neighbors, was a product of subduction zone volcanism. Its eruptive history is recorded in layers of lava and pyroclastic deposits as well as welded and unwelded ignimbrite at the northern end of the island.  After the caldera collapsed, volcanic activity continued in the form of fissure eruptions on the northern caldera rim and flanks and a group of three cones inside the caldera.

Tofua Lofia

Tofua’s Lofia crater as viewed from the caldera rim – Original image found at Go Wild Productions NZ

The northernmost of those three cones, called Lofia, is the only historically active one. Lofia’s crater is only 70 m wide but is 120 m deep, and though it is usually emitting steam, sometimes lava can be observed in one or more small pits in the crater floor.

tofua crater lava

Photo looking down into the vertical-walled Lofia crater to an orange-colored, circular zone of lava on the floor, March 2009. Courtesy of X. Rosset. – Caption and original image from GVP

But historians might be interested to note that the first Caucasian man to set foot on Tofua island was Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty in 1789.  After being set adrift in the ship’s boat by the mutineers, Bligh and a handful of loyal men sailed to Tofua to get supplies, but were chased off by the angry natives.

tofua stamp

1953 stamp issued by Tonga to observe the historic mutiny of The Bounty. The stamp depicts Tofua to the left and the conical Kao Island on its right – Original image found at Mountainstamp

Congratulations to Jonet for being the first and only one to catch up to me this week even though the Search Party has picked up a few new people. Welcome aboard to each of you..and don’t worry. There will be a new chance to find me beginning this Monday evening (NY time) when I take off for new adventure at a new volcano.


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