Unleashing Curiosity, Igniting Discovery - The Science Fusion

Mauna Loa Volcano in Hawaii Erupts After 36-Year Hiatus


The world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, has erupted after nearly four decades of dormancy. US officials are urging nearby residents to prepare for possible evacuation in response to the eruption.

This volcanic activity marks the first eruption since 1984. It commenced at Moku‘āweoweo, the caldera located within Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park on the island of Hawaii, at 11:30 pm local time on November 27th.

As of now, the eruption is contained to the summit area; however, officials have cautioned that the situation may change rapidly.

Mauna Loa’s slopes are flanked by two rift zones that extend northeast and southwest from the caldera. These areas are susceptible to cracking and splitting, allowing for the release of “very fluid and fast-moving lava.” Such lava flow poses a threat to downstream residential areas, as emphasized by Ken Hon of the Hawaiian Volcano Observatory during a briefing on November 28th.

Regarding the eruption’s extent, Hon stated, “Right now, we just don’t know what’s going to happen – if this is going to stay as a summit-only eruption or move into one of the rift zones.”

On November 28th, officials from the US Geological Survey reported that lava had started to overflow from the summit’s caldera, though there is no evidence of lava erupting from the rift zones.

Ashfall warnings have been issued for Hawaii’s Big Island, urging medically vulnerable residents to stay indoors or wear filtering masks. Shelters have been made available to ensure the safety of residents, despite no immediate threat to populated areas, according to officials.

Mauna Loa is a colossal shield volcano that stands about 4 kilometers high and covers approximately 5000 square kilometers of land.

Since 1843, it has erupted 33 times, with the most significant eruption occurring in 1950 when it submerged the coastal town of Hoʻōpūloa within a staggering three hours. This destructive event resulted in the destruction of houses, a church, and the local highway.

During its last eruption in 1984, lava flows approached within 5 miles of Hilo city.

A thermal camera on the north rim of Mauna Loa’s summit caldera captured the eruption

US Geological Survey

Volcanologists have observed increased activity at Mauna Loa for several weeks now, with dozens of small, shallow earthquakes recorded around the summit in the past month. “Then it really kicked up right before the eruption started,” stated Paul Segall at Stanford University in California.

Over the past few years, deeper earthquakes near the volcano have indicated that Mauna Loa might be primed for an eruption. “This has been on our radar for a while,” Segall added.

The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory announced that it will conduct aerial reconnaissance “as soon as possible” to gain a better understanding of the risks posed by the current eruption.

Segall suggests that this eruption may provide valuable insights into the connection between Mauna Loa and another Hawaiian volcano, Kīlauea. He remarks, “We don’t really understand the plumbing system where the magma separates” to flow to the two volcanoes. One theory behind the extended lull since Mauna Loa’s previous eruption is that magma was being diverted to Kīlauea. The latter experienced a major eruption in 2018 that resulted in caldera collapse.

At this point, Segall sees no indication that the Mauna Loa eruption will match the ferocity of Kīlauea’s 2018 eruption. “Statistically speaking, this thing is going to be relatively modest,” Segall assured.

Topics:

Share this article
Shareable URL
Prev Post

The US is Conducting its Largest-Ever Survey of Nature and Wildlife

Next Post

Unlocking the Secrets of Your Mind: Strategies for Achieving Lasting Joy

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read next