Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts for the first time in 38 years

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa volcano erupts for the first time in 38 years


For the first time in practically 4 a long time, the largest lively volcano on Earth is erupting. Lava flows from Mauna Loa, in the coronary heart of Hawaii’s Big Island, may threaten some roads, however in any other case authorities mentioned there was no quick hazard to populated areas.

The U.S. Geological Survey mentioned the eruption started round 11:30 p.m. native time Sunday at Mokuaweoweo, Mauna Loa’s summit caldera. It was seen from Kona, a preferred vacationer vacation spot on the west coast of the island. The final eruption of Mauna Loa was in 1984.

No evacuation orders had been issued as of late Monday morning, however shelters have been opened as a precaution, Hawaii County officers mentioned. And authorities suggested that winds may carry volcanic fuel and superb ash downwind.

While the eruption was initially confined to the volcano’s summit, the USGS mentioned in an replace at 7:20 a.m. that lava had additionally begun to movement from the volcano’s northeast facet, in what scientists check with as its northeast fissure zone.

Wendy Stovall, a USGS volcanologist, mentioned that was excellent news for the Kona space on the west facet of the island, the place steep slopes imply it may take simply hours for lava flows from Mauna Loa’s southeast fissure zone arrive, making it the most susceptible a part of the island throughout an explosion.

“When Mauna Loa erupts, it sits in a rift zone; it usually doesn’t move from side to side,” she mentioned. “The eruption should stay in the northeast rift zone.”

The volcano’s slopes on its northeast facet are gradual, that means it may take weeks or months, and a big quantity of lava movement, for any populated areas to face important hazard. Stovall mentioned the lava flows may ultimately attain a key street that crosses the island, Saddle Road, in addition to a street resulting in an observatory on its northern flank, the place measurements of atmospheric gases have been collected since the Fifties. together with carbon dioxide and methane. , recognized resulting from local weather change. The observatory itself just isn’t in imminent hazard, Stovall mentioned.

Although there have been no quick indicators of harmful lava flows or earthquake hazards, each are frequent penalties of previous eruptions, mentioned Falk Amelung, a professor at the University of Miami who has studied Mauna Loa.

“The worst-case scenario is not good,” Amelung mentioned, urging residents to arrange for earthquakes and evacuate.

Source: Landsat imagery

by way of Google Earth


Source: Landsat imagery by way of Google Earth


Source: Landsat imagery by way of Google Earth


Earthquakes “are not among the highest risks we’re looking at right now,” mentioned Wes Thelen, a USGS seismologist. The largest earthquake recorded in Hawaii in 1868 was related to an eruption at Mauna Loa, nonetheless, and the hyperlinks between volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are “very close,” he added.

“There are cases of earthquakes causing explosions and potential explosions causing earthquakes,” Thelen mentioned. “But it’s not a foregone conclusion that there will be a major earthquake associated with this particular eruption.”

An ash advisory was in impact till 10 a.m. Hawaii time Monday, or 3 p.m. ET, for the Big Island and throughout the Maui Channel to the southeast coast of Maui. The National Weather Service in Honolulu, which is about 190 miles northwest of Mauna Loa, mentioned as much as a quarter-inch of ash may accumulate on the Big Island, probably inflicting respiratory issues for some individuals, damaging engines and digital tools. . and damaging crops and livestock.

Eruptions in 1984 and 1950 despatched lava flows towards the cities of Hilo and South Kona, respectively, the National Park Service mentioned. Flows can take wherever from hours to weeks or months to succeed in communities, in keeping with USGS maps.

“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic, and the location and progression of lava flows can change rapidly,” the USGS mentioned.

Mauna Loa, certainly one of Earth’s most lively volcanoes, has erupted 33 occasions since 1843, in keeping with the USGS.

The volcano, whose identify means “tall mountain,” is called a protect volcano as a result of it’s considerably wider than it’s tall. Mauna Loa makes up about 51 p.c of the Big Island and rises 13,681 ft above sea degree and about 30,000 ft from the sea flooring, in keeping with the National Park Service.

The USGS, which has a analysis digital camera posted on the northern fringe of Mokuaweoweo, launched photographs from earlier than and after the eruption.

The eruption will also be seen from area, captured by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s GOES West satellite tv for pc.

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