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Hawaii’s Mauna Loa - World’s Largest Active Volcano Erupts For The First Time Since 1984


This is the first eruption of the world's biggest active volcano, Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, in 38 years. Approximately 200,000 residents on Hawaii's Big Island have been warned to evacuate in case lava flows begin moving toward inhabited areas, despite the fact that the eruption of Mauna Loa was not directly threatening these places.

According to the US Geological Survey, an eruption may be quite dynamic, and the position and progress of lava flows can vary quickly, forcing authorities to issue ash-fall alerts and create emergency shelters.

Starting at around 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday, the volcano started spewing ash into the air. The authorities have not issued any orders to evacuate, and air travel has not been disrupted. Officials have cautioned that the current containment of the lava near the top may not last.

Hawaii’s Mauna Loa Erupts for First Time in 38 Years

Mauna Loa Is World’s Largest Active Volcano

COPYRIGHT_WI: Published on https://washingtonindependent.com/hawaiis-mauna-loa/ by Daisy-Mae Schmitt on 2022-11-30T09:14:52.607Z

In 2018, Kilauea erupted in a residential area, destroying 700 houses. Its much bigger sibling, Mauna Loa, rises 13,679 feet (4,169 meters) above sea level. Lava may flow more quickly from eruptions on Mauna Loa because its slopes are steeper than those of Kilauea.

In 1950, the mountain erupted, and the lava flowed for 24 kilometers (15 miles) before reaching the coast. Big Island Mayor Mitch Roth said that tourists shouldn't have too much trouble enjoying their vacations despite the eruption.

It will be spectacular where it is, but the chances of it really interrupting the visitor industry — very, very slim.

- Mitch Roth, Big Island Mayor

Even though the eruption will likely generate greater volcanic haze due to increased sulfur-dioxide emissions, for some people the shorter travel times will be worth the risk.

But the good thing is you don’t have to drive from Kona over to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park to see an eruption anymore. You can just look out your window at night and you’ll be able to see Mauna Loa erupting.

- Mitch Roth, Big Island Mayor

At night, a person need just peek outside their window to see the volcanic eruption of Mauna Loa.

Owner of Pahala Plantation Cottages, Julia Neal, says the eruption is a relief after months of planning and speculation about the volcano's future activity.

"It's thrilling," she said. A person may say, "It's a relief that it's happening and we're not waiting for it to happen."

Some prospective visitors from the United States mainland had phoned Neal "asking me to make a forecast, which I can't," she said. I told them to wait there, so they did.

How Much Eruption Is Threathreatening To Communities

The US Geological Survey said around noon on Monday that despite lava flowing down one side of the volcano in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the eruption poses no threat to nearby communities.

All indications are that the eruption will remain in the Northeast Rift Zone. Volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and Pele’s Hair (strands of lava glass) may be carried downwind. A trace to less than one quarter inch of ashfall could accumulate on parts of the island.

- National Weather Service in Honolulu

There has been volcanic activity at Mauna Loa, thus the state Transportation Department has issued a warning to anybody flying into Hilo International Airport (ITO) or Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport in Keahole (KOA) to double-check their flight status.

The airline said that it would not be using Hilo International Airport on Monday due to the eruption. Southwest Airlines announced the cancellation of five flights to and from Honolulu. After determining the extent of the ash cloud, the US Federal Aviation Administration announced in a statement that it will issue air traffic warnings.

The Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted late Monday morning that the Hawaii Volcano Observatory had received reports of lava rushing into the southwest section of the volcano's caldera, or crater.

According to a tweet from the agency, there is no need to fear for the safety of adjacent neighborhoods and no evacuations have been ordered. Though "approximately half" of Mauna Loa's documented eruptions stayed in the summit region without affecting inhabited areas, two shelters been established as a precaution.

Kilauea, A Nearby Volcano, Actively Erupting Since 2021

The US Geological Survey records 33 eruptions of the Hawaiian volcano Mauna Loa from its first "well-documented historical eruption" in 1843. Not having an eruption since 1984 makes this period of inactivity the longest on record for this particular volcano.

The crater at the peak of Mauna Loa is located approximately 21 miles to the west of Kilauea, a smaller volcano that has been actively erupting since the year 2021. The park claims that the two eruptions occurred at the same time, creating a unique dual-eruption occurrence.

The explosion from Kilauea has been contained to the volcano's crater for the time being. More than 700 houses in the Leilani Estates area were destroyed and its people were forced to evacuate as Kilauea raged for months in 2018. The agency said in a late-month bulletin that rising seismic activity and earthquake rates indicate that Mauna Loa is in a state of heightened disturbance.

According to the US Geological Survey, the average number of earthquakes per day rose from around five to ten in June 2022 to about ten to twenty in July and August. Both September 23 and September 29 had upwards of a hundred tremors each, according to CNN.

The US National Park Service reported that the majority of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park remained accessible despite the closure of the Mauna Loa peak to backcountry hikers in October due to increasing activity.

Final Thought

There has been little spread of the lava, and no orders to evacuate have been issued, but two shelters have been opened just in case. Mauna Loa's huge bulk causes the ocean floor to sink, raising the volcano's peak to a height of around 17 kilometers (55,700 feet) above sea level. The volcano's underwater sides extend for miles below sea level to the ocean bottom.

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About The Authors

Daisy-Mae Schmitt

Daisy-Mae Schmitt - Daisy-Mae is obsessed with inventing new ways to create awesome content that's absurdly useful and successful, with over ten years of editorial and inbound marketing experience. She also serves as a reporter, strategist, interviewer, mentor, and therapist for in-house contributors and clients.

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