Hawaii’s Largest Active Volcano Erupts; Ash Fall Warning Issued
Mauna Loa/Public Domain
Mauna Loa/Public Domain

Hawaii’s largest active volcano began erupting Sunday night, with lava flow warnings issued to the surrounding area.

The eruption of Mauna Loa, considered the world’s largest active volcano, was detected at approximately 11:30 p.m. local time inside the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.

“Residents at risk from Mauna Loa lava flows should review preparedness and refer to Hawai‘i County Civil Defense information for further guidance,” U.S. Geological Survey said. “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.”

A later update was sent at 2:43 a.m. local time regarding the continued eruption.

“The eruption continues at the summit of Mauna Loa,” U.S. Geological Survey reported. “All vents remain restricted to the summit area. However, lava flows in the summit region are visible from Kona. There is currently no indication of any migration of the eruption into a rift zone.”

The Volcano Alert Level and Aviation Color Code for Mauna Loa remains at WARNING/RED, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The overnight eruption also led to several small earthquakes recorded in the area. Reuters reported over a dozen tremors of more than 2.5 magnitude within two hours of Mauna Loa’s eruption, with the highest recorded at 4.2.

Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency (EMA) has also issued advisory information regarding the eruption.

“Hawaii Volcano Observatory has received some reports of lava overflowing into the southwest portion on the Mauna Loa caldera, but at this point there are NO indications that it threatens populated areas. No evacuation orders are in place,” the EMA tweeted. “Shelters have been opened as a precaution in Pahala and at Old Airport in Kailua Kona, but roughly half of all recorded Mauna Loa eruptions have remained in the summit area without threatening populated areas.”

Mauna Loa covers more than half of Hawaii’s Big Island, with its elevation reaching 13,679 feet. The volcano last erupted in March and April of 1984, sending a flow of lava within five miles of the city of Hilo, Reuters added.

The volcano has erupted 33 times since officials began documenting its activity in 1843. Its lava flows have reached the ocean eight times since 1868.

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