Mauna Loa Volcano Erupting For First Time In 40 Years: What To Know


The world’s largest volcano is erupting for the first time in nearly 40 years. The Mauna Loa volcano on the island of Hawaii first appeared to have its lava confined to the volcano’s caldera, but reports say it’s now flowing downslope. The intense feat of nature is atstounding, as are the unique qualities of this volcano, and there is a livestream of the Mauna Loa situation now, but, of course, there are dangers to know about as well for Hawaiians.

What is the Mauna Loa volcano?

The Mauna Loa volcano is known as the world’s largest volcano, towering 13,677 feet above sea level, according to Britannica, and it makes up half of the island’s area. The volcano’s dome is 75 miles long and 64 miles wide, with the summit caldera making up approximately 6 square miles and going 600 feet deep.

According to NBC, the volcano, which means “Long Mountain,” covers half of the island, and it’s erupted 33 times since the United States Geological Survey (USGS) began keeping records in 1843. Mauna Loa is one of the six volcanos in Hawaii, and it’s one of the most active in the world.

The agency warned Hawaii residents early in September that an eruption was likely to happen since there was an increase in earthquakes, NBC reports. The Hawaiian Volcano Observatory told the publication that Mauna Loa has been in a state of “heightened unrest” since mid-September, when the number of summit earthquakes “jumped from 10 to 20 per day to 40 to 50 per day.”

Why is it significant it’s erupting right now?

“Mauna Loa began to erupt at 11:30 PM HST on Sunday night,” USGS tweeted. “The eruption is currently confined to the summit, and there is no indication that magma is moving into either rift zone at this time.”

The last time Mauna Loa erupted was in 1984, making this one of the longest periods of rest, according to the USGS. “Over the past 3,000 years, Mauna Loa has erupted approximately once every 6 years,” the agency explains, which is why erupting now, 38 years later, is significant.

“The significance of Mauna Loa erupting comes from a variety of historical reasons,” Dr. Robin George Andrews, who holds a Ph.D. in Volcanology, tweeted. “But the fact that it is a hazardous mountain that hasn’t erupted since 1984 – the longest eruptive pause in its recorded history – is why we should all keep an eye on it.”

Is the community near the volcano in danger during the eruption?

According to the latest reports from the agency, the eruption of Mauna Loa isn’t likely to threaten the local community’s safety. However, the agency has issued a red warning for volcano activity.

“The eruption of Mauna Loa has migrated from the Summit to the Northeast Rift Zone,” the notice states, reiterating that the danger is not likely to move from there, but the community is ready just in case. People are urged to keep an eye on updates from USGS on its website.

There is a risk, however, of ash deposit from the volcano, which can potentially bring respiratory concerns.

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

You can watch the Mauna Loa volcano eruption on a live-stream.

For families with kids interested in geological events like a volcano, the eruption can safely be watched from the comfort of your home. The USGS has a live stream video of the volcano from several angles, zones, and a thermal view.

Visit USGS for a full list of webcam images for the Mauna Loa volcano, though you should note that they may not be totally up-to-date and won’t be repaired immediately if one goes down — for what are fairly obvious reasons.

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