The Island of Discovery recently witnessed the eruption of a volcano. Called Mauna Loa – the world’s largest active volcano set the skies ablaze after 40 years. Here’s all about it. By Eshita Srinivas
The tropical paradise – Hawaii – is known for its pristine waters, sunny sands, and vibrant culture. However, its liveliness is only enhanced by the presence of active volcanoes – Kīlauea, Mauna Loa, Hualālai, Mauna Kea, Kama‘ehuakanaloa, and Haleakalā. Of these, the largest – on both, the island and earth – Mauna Loa recently erupted for the first time in four decades.
As per numerous reports – about 33 kilometers away the Kilauea is also erupting, having done so for over a year. This dual eruption hasn’t occurred since 1984. Housed within the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, these series of rare events are expected to generate tourism. This, especially since neither has threatened homes or caused damage to infrastructure so far.
Tall fountains of lava have been spotted flowing from Mauna Loa
UPDATE: View from Saddle Road of lava from Mauna Loa volcano eruption as of 1:30 am — Hawaii County Civil Defense working to confirm if any lava has flowed outside the summit caldera (pics: @KITV4 viewer AJ Taaca) pic.twitter.com/dN5reiq4PW
— Tom George (@TheTomGeorge) November 28, 2022
As per a report by CNN, over 200 feet tall fountains of lava were seen from the Mauna Loa – all from at least one split. Each form calderas – hollows that occur beneath the summit. This is centralised to the Northeast Rift Zone and comes with volcanic gas, fine ash, and strands of volcanic glass. Advisories regarding the same – which can lead to water contamination or lung irritation – have been lifted. The volcano – so far – has erupted 33 times since 1843.
Although evacuation orders have not been issued and damage to human life or property is considered nil, officials are on high alert. BBC notes that Mauna Loa is about 4,169 m above sea level and covers an area of about 5,179 sq km. The eruption occurred at 23:30 local time on Sunday (3:00 pm IST, Monday) at the summit. This came in after a string of earthquakes in the region which had prompted authorities to release a series of warnings regarding the possibility of this event.
USGS has confirmed that lava from Mauna Loa summit is flowing out of the NE rift zone. https://t.co/oaJGYTYqCE
— Hawaii Volcanoes NPS (@Volcanoes_NPS) November 28, 2022
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) stated in the report by the BBC, “Based on past events, the early stages of a Mauna Loa eruption can be very dynamic and the location and advance of lava flows can change rapidly.” They further noted, “If the eruption migrates beyond the walls of the summit caldera, lava flows could “move rapidly downslope.” The last eruption reportedly sent lava flows to nearly eight kilometres close to the populous town of Hilo. And as the number of residents grow, concerns around the safety of an eruption do as well.
At the moment, The Hawaii Department of Health has stated that sensitive groups – children, elderly, and those with respiratory conditions – should reduce outdoor activities and heavy breathing, especially if vog (smog containing volcanic gas or haze) conditions develop.
Image: UGSCS Volcanoes