The Mauna Loa volcano, located in Hawaii, erupted on Sunday after 38 years of dormancy, however, according to scientists and officials, it does not appear to pose a threat to nearby communities.
Mauna Loa is the largest and most active volcano in the world. On Monday it began spewing ash into the air, followed by orange-colored lava across the island's grounds. Lava began erupting from Moku'āweoweo, the volcano's summit at approximately 23:30 local time. The Hawaii County Civil Defense Agency issued a red alert as soon as the volcano erupted.
Video of the Mauna Loa volcano eruption on the island of Hawaii. Video: Paradise Helicopters pic.twitter.com/sb9cgWVgVI
- Jeremy in the field (@jeremyleetv) November 29, 2022
- NOAA Satellites (@NOAAASatellites) November 28, 2022
In the Agency's latest communiqué, issued on Monday, they reported that lava had erupted from the summit zone of the volcano (where it was contained) and was visible in the northeast rift zone, but did not present a danger to any surrounding community.
- COH Civil Defense (@CivilDefenseHI) November 28, 2022
These rift zones, such as the one to the northeast, are weakened areas that facilitate the outflow of magma and although they do not pose an immediate danger to communities to the south or west, other cities, such as Hilo, could potentially end up in the path of lava. This could take weeks or months, however, if the lava moves to a crevice located to the southwest, it might only take a matter of days to arrive, the Associated Press reports.
The Civil Defense Agency issued information from the United States Geological Survey (USGS), which has been aware of the eruption since it occurred. They warn residents that, although the volcano does not yet present any danger to communities, there is a potential for worsening conditions, as eruptions are dynamic and flows can change rapidly.
Four decades of inactivity
Mauna Loa is part of a group of five volcanoes that make up the island of Hawaii. It has a maximum height of 13,670 feet above sea level and when it erupted in 1950 it took less than three hours for the mountain's lava to travel 15 miles to reach the sea. Its last eruption was in 1984, when it spewed lava for twenty days. Sunday night's eruption interrupted the longest period of calm in the volcano's history.