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Mauna Loa erupts in Hawaii for the first time since 1984

Mauna Loa erupts in Hawaii for the first time since 1984



The world’s largest active volcano, Mauna Loa in Hawaii, is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Although lava flows down one side of the volcano, the eruption in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park does not threaten communities, the USGS reported Monday noon.

“All indications are that the volcanic eruption will remain in the northeast rift zone,” the agency said in an advisory report, referring to an area where the volcano splits, allowing lava to flow. “Volcanic gas and possibly fine ash and pellet hairs (threads of lava glass) can be carried downwind.”

The National Weather Service in Honolulu said “less than a quarter-inch trace” of ash could accumulate in parts of the island.

“Passengers with flights into Hilo International Airport (ITO) or Ellison Onizuka-Kona International Airport in Keihole (KOA) should check with their airline before proceeding to the airport due to volcanic activity on Mauna Loa,” according to an advisory by the Department of Transportation. government.

Southwest Airlines announced it was halting flights from Hilo International Monday due to the volcanic eruption. Southwest said it had canceled five flights to and from Honolulu.

“The volcanic eruption is closely monitored and air traffic warnings will be issued once the size of the ash cloud is determined,” the US Federal Aviation Administration said in a statement.

Reports of lava overflowing in the southwestern part of the volcano’s caldera, or crater, have reached the Hawaii Volcano Observatory, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency tweeted late Monday morning.

The agency said on Twitter that there was no indication of a threat to nearby communities, and no evacuation orders were issued. As a precaution, two shelters were opened, even as “nearly half” of the recorded Mauna Loa eruptions remained in the summit area without threatening populated areas, according to another agency’s tweet.

The weather service says ashfall can damage vehicles and buildings, contaminate water supplies, disrupt sewage and electrical systems, and damage or kill vegetation, while abrasive volcanic ash can irritate eyes and lungs.

“People with respiratory illnesses should stay indoors to avoid inhaling ash particles, and anyone outside should cover their mouth and nose with a mask or cloth,” the Honolulu office warned. “Potential damage to crops and animals. Minor damage to equipment and infrastructure. Reduced visibility. Extensive clean-up may be necessary.”

The observatory said earlier that the lava flows do not threaten the slope communities.

At around 4,000 square miles, Hawaii or the Big Island is the largest in size in the Hawaiian chain but has a population of just over 200,000 people, according to the US Census Bureau, or less than 50 people per square mile. Most of the population resides in the cities and communities surrounding the coast.

“Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and evolution of the pyroclastic flows can change rapidly,” the observatory said, adding: “If the eruption continues at Moku’āweoweo, the pyroclastic flows will most likely be confined.” within the walls of the caldera.

“However, if the volcanic vents move outside their walls, the pyroclastic flows may move rapidly downward.”

Hues of red from the volcano’s eruption lit up the predawn sky Monday, according to footage captured at Kailua Bay & Pier by Kailua-Kona resident Matthew Liano, along the Big Island’s west coast.

“The glow is unlike anything I’ve seen here and I’ve lived in Kona most of my life,” Liano told CNN.

The eruption began at Moku’āweoweo, the summit of Mauna Loa’s caldera, on Sunday around 11:30 p.m. HST (4:30 a.m. ET Monday), according to the observatory.

Mauna Loa, which covers half of the island of Hawaii, has erupted 33 times since 1843, the first “well-documented historical eruption,” according to the USGS. It last erupted in 1984, making this long period of calm the longest in recorded history.

Located about 21 miles west of Kilauea, the summit crater of Mauna Loa is a smaller volcano that has erupted since 2021. The simultaneous eruptions resulted in a rare double eruption, according to the park.

The Kilauea eruption is currently confined to the crater. When the Kilauea volcano erupted for several months in 2018, it spewed lava into the Leilani Estates neighborhood, destroying more than 700 homes and displacing residents.

Mauna Loa has been in increasing unrest, according to the agency, which in an update late last month noted rising seismic activity and increasing rates of earthquakes.

Seismic activity has increased from five to 10 earthquakes per day since June 2022 to about 10 to 20 earthquakes per day in July and August, according to the US Geological Survey. CNN reported that a peak of more than 100 earthquakes per day was recorded on Sept. 23 and Sept. 29.

Increased activity prompted Hawaii Volcanoes National Park in October to close the summit of Mauna Loa to all backcountry hikers until further notice, though the US National Park Service said the main section of the park remained open.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported the EST equations to consult ashfall and eruption.




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